Will school divisions follow Youngkin administration's transgender student policies?
Schools across Virginia may be about to take another look at policies regarding transgender students.
Under guidelines adopted by former Governor Ralph Northam’s administration, teachers in Virginia public schools were expected to use the pronouns students ask for based on the gender they identify with. Now, Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin is recommending guidelines that say the opposite – allowing teachers to misgender students.
Todd Gathje at the Family Foundation says the new guidelines respect the rights of teachers.
"What we really need to make sure that we’re putting in place and respecting the constitutional rights and free speech rights of everyone, of all students and teachers and faculty; to make sure they're not compelled to say something," Gathje says.
Youngkin’s guidelines also change rules about bathrooms, locker rooms, sports participation and parental notification. But will school systems adopt these controversial new guidelines?
Former Education Secretary Atif Qarni says they don't have to.
"These are guidelines, so the policies at the beginning do say that school divisions must adopt it," Qarni says. "Having said that, ultimately it's the school division's authority whether they want to adopt and implement these policies. So legally, the governor can't do anything to force them."
Take the previous guidelines as an example. According to Equality Virginia, only 13 school divisions fully adopted Northam's guidelines. Most school divisions kept their existing policies, and nine school boards voted to reject Northam's policies.