The Chesapeake Public Schools Board declined to even vote on passing a transgender policy in its Monday meeting. After hours of public comment advocating for and against both mask policy and the transgender policy, Member Patricia King’s motion to pass the policy died without being seconded by any other board member.
Then, Chairman Victoria Proffitt read a statement: “The school board has received input from many citizens this evening and we have had the opportunity to discuss among ourselves, and we have determined that we will not take any action on the proposed transgender policies at this time, which means that it is not in effect.”
Last week, the Newport News School Board voted against a transgender policy. The districts join several other districts across Virginia that are resisting requirements to implement transgender policies similar to those drafted by the Virginia Department of Education. It’s still unclear what kinds of enforcement Virginia officials may use to compel compliance. Statements by office of the attorney general lawyers and a circuit court judge in a lawsuit suggest that the VDOE’s policies are only guidance and that districts who refuse to implement them will not face funding losses. Still, the Newport News legal counsel said last week that the district could face lawsuits. Since then, the Newport News School Board has scheduled a special meeting to reconsider the decision.
The board decided not to resist Governor Ralph Northam’s school mask mandate.
Sixty-eight speakers were scheduled for public comment, and many speakers spoke against passing the transgender policy.
Family Foundation Director of Government Relations Todd Gathje told the board, “I’m here to urge you to reject, in any form, the model policies for the treatment of transgender students put out by the Virginia Department of Education, as well as the suggested changes by the Virginia School Board Association that references in the legal section Virginia Code Section 22.1-23.3. Public policies and school policies must be created in a way that protects the bodily safety of every child, as well as the constitutionally protected free speech of students and teachers and promotes a respect for parental authority.”
Some transgender advocates also spoke against the policy, saying the updated draft under condition was insufficient, and criticizing the board for not consulting the transgender community.
Public commenter Shayne O’Neal said, “The original version of the policy was a good start, but the second one is not. It’s watered-down, has loopholes that allow for micro discriminations, and it doesn’t protect our transgender students from discrimination fully, so why? What are you doing?”
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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Victoria Proffitt” by Victoria Proffitt for Commissioner of Revenue. Background Photo “Graduates” by Chesapeake Public Schools.