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The Purple Tide

The student news site of Chantilly High School (Chantilly, VA)

The Purple Tide

The student news site of Chantilly High School (Chantilly, VA)

The Purple Tide

FCPS declines to adopt Youngkin administration policies on trans students

Junior+Austen+Locke+holds+a+sign+that+says+Protect+Trans+Rights.
Used with permission of Alexandra Smith
Junior Austen Locke holds a sign that says “Protect Trans Rights.”

According to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation in 2018, 72% of transgender and gender expansive youth reported hearing their families make negative comments about LGBTQIA+ people and 64% said their families make them feel bad for their identities.

To tackle these issues, the administration of the previous Governor, Ralph Northam (D), issued the “Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools.” These policies allowed students to go by their chosen name and gender pronouns without needing parental approval and required school staff to use students’ chosen name and pronouns that corresponded to their gender identity.

“This was around middle school so I had just joined my school’s gay–straight alliance club,” junior Rin Kelley said. “It was interesting because when it came out the entire group kind of celebrated because it felt good. I think it helps a lot of people to have that backing and confidence in order to correct someone as far as addressing their pronouns and gender.”

In July of 2023, the administration of the current Governor, Glenn Youngkin (R), withdrew the 2021 Model Policies arguing that they “disregarded the rights of parents” and introduced the “Model Policies on Ensuring Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for All Students and Parents in Virginia’s Public Schools,” which states that schools shall defer to parents to make the best decisions with respect to their children.

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“It allows a lot of teachers to have excuses and I think it also allows a lot of kids to have excuses to target trans people further,” Kelley said.

The 2023 Model Policies state that parents are in the best position to determine what pronouns shall be used for their child by teachers and school staff. In addition, the new policies defer to parents to decide whether their child can express a gender that differs with their child’s sex while at school or receives counseling at school regarding a gender transition.

Seniors Rory Ketzle and Samanvi Vemula attend a walkout protesting Youngkin’s trans youth policies on Sept 27, 2022.
(Used with permission of Alexandra Smith)

Organizations such as FCPS Pride, an advocacy group made up of LGBTQIA+ staff, parents, students and allies in Fairfax County, have rallied against the Youngkin Administration’s new approach to trans students since the policies were proposed in a 2022 draft.

“The most outrageous thing is that it encourages parents not to welcome their children into their home and to keep the schools from accepting those children,” co-chair of FCPS Pride Robert Rigby said. “Think about what that does to a child and a family and society. What it leads to is death. It leads to suicide attempts.”

On August 15, Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid issued a statement that existing policies would stand, declining to adopt the 2023 Model Policies. Schools in Prince William County, Alexandria and Arlington are among the districts that have also declined to adopt the 2023 Model Policies. In contrast, the Spotsylvania School Board and the Roanoke County School Board have adopted the 2023 Model Policies.

“You can’t deny that our time in middle and high school is really important [to] who you are or who you will be,” sophomore Lily Payne said. “People experiment and try to figure out who they are, whether someone tries one thing out and it doesn’t quite work for them, or it makes them feel more like themselves and who they want to be. Since we all have to go to this building everyday for four years with the same people, you should be able to receive the same rights as everyone else.”

As legal debates continue over the policies, LGBTQIA+ advocates worry about the message the Youngkin administration is sending to transgender youth.

“This is simply an abomination of American democracy and a real sign that democracy is at serious risk,” Rigby said. “Youngkin went after the most vulnerable people whom he could find to build up his voter base without caring, without listening, without justice, without mercy.”

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Gaby Gutierrez, Editor-in-Chief
Gaby Gutierrez is a senior in her third year with The Purple Tide. Gaby loves to watch reality TV with her brother, play Scattegories with her family, watch rom-coms, discover new hobbies and listen to Billy Joel and the Smiths. Currently, her favorite shows are New Girl, Ted Lasso and Only Murders in the Building.
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