On Friday Glenn Youngkin (R), Governor of the US state of Virginia, issued guidelines to the state’s 131 public schools that seek to strip trans students of their rights and protections.
Last week, Virginia’s Department of Education released the guidelines that, if implemented, would require all students who wish to be referred to by different pronouns to file a legal document. If the student is not able to obtain such a legal document, they will have to endure misgendering and dismissal of their identity on a daily basis by the very same authority figures – teachers, principals, professors, and other educators – who are meant to nurture their growth, not impede it.
Trans rights within US schools are already at stake and forcing students to get a legal document just to be referred to by their correct pronouns will further restrict trans and gender diverse people’s access to the same bare minimum respect cis students receive. Educators will be allowed to refuse to use a student’s correct pronouns if it does not coincide with their religious beliefs.
The decision, which was released on Friday by Republican governor Glenn Youngkin’s administration, will also require all students to use the school’s bathrooms and changing rooms based on the sex they were assigned at birth, instead of their gender identity. This also includes all team sports and extracurricular activities students wish to participate in.
The announcement stood out because the previous governor, Democrat Ralph Northam, had instructed all schools in Virginia to allow trans students to use the school’s facilities in accordance with the gender they identify as in order to maintain a safe environment for all trans students.
However, Youngkin, the new governor, is adamant on having a ‘transparent’ teacher-parent relationship, promising to keep parents fully informed about all matters. This will lead to trans students being outed by their teachers even when they are not ready for their families to know. In some cases, outing someone can have serious consequences on the child’s physical and mental health if their family is not accepting.
Before the new policies can take effect, there will be a 30-day period of public comment. Subsequently, the Virginia Department of Education will review the public’s comments and a final version of the guidelines will be approved.
Students’ gender identities and pronouns should be valid with or without a legal document. It is simply ridiculous to request a legal document for one’s own identity to be respected by others. At GenderGP we strive toward making all our patients feel comfortable when telling us who they are and the pronouns they want to be referred to. You will not require any document for us to take your gender identity seriously.
Trans children and teenagers should be able to go to school without fearing discrimination and bullying by their classmates as well as their teachers. If the education department’s guidelines are implemented, trans students would not have the school’s support and would be prone to receiving their education in a hostile and potentially dangerous environment. If implemented, this policy will do unspeakable harm to young trans people in Virginia, putting their safety and their wellbeing at risk, and cause those that are there to help the children in their care to develop, to instead repress and deny who they are.