The Student News Site of Fauquier High School

The Falconer

The Student News Site of Fauquier High School

The Falconer

The Student News Site of Fauquier High School

The Falconer

Virginia DOE: New Pronouns Need Parental Consent

David Achter

On July 19, 2023, the new “Model Policies on Ensuring Privacy, Dignity, and Respect For All Students and Parents in Virginia’s Public Schools,” published by the Virginia Department of Education went into effect, after being approved by Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin (R).

These new policies detail guidelines for the “treatment of transgender students” in Virginia schools, emphasizing the right of a parent to be notified by staff about changes regarding their child’s gender identity. This increase in parental power on such matters diverged from the guidelines laid out in the 2021 Model Policies, passed by former Governor of Virginia Ralph Northam (D), which highlighted a student’s right to assert their pronouns and gender identity in school without the express permission of a parent or guardian.

The ‘Purpose’ section of the 2023 Policies argued that the 2021 Policies “disregarded the rights of parents” and “ignored…Constitutional principles” that affect the education of all “students, including transgender students.” This led to the creation of the 2023 Model Policies, whose core ‘Guiding Principle’ states that “[school] policies shall be drafted to safeguard parent’s rights with respect to their child and facilitate the exercise of those rights.”

The specific rights protected for parents are detailed in a subsection of the ‘Guiding Principle,’ which states, “Parents are in the best position to work with their child…to determine (a) what names, nicknames, and/or pronouns shall be used for their child by…staff, (b) whether their child engages in any counseling or social transition at school that encourages a gender that differs from their child’s sex, or (c) whether their child expresses a gender that differs with their child’s sex while at school.”

This is followed by the statement that “schools shall keep parents informed about their student’s well-being,” effectively removing a student’s right to keep information regarding their gender identity and/or pronouns private from their parents.

Regarding the implications of the 2023 Model Policies for FHS, The Virginia Department of Education included in the document that “each school board shall adopt policies that are consistent with but may be more comprehensive than the model policies developed by the Virginia Department of Education.”

Ginger Farmer, a School Board Clerk and Office Manager for the Superintendent, commented on how FCPS has chosen to implement the new guidelines. “…our School Board does not intend to vote or take any action on these policies because of the way our non-discrimination policy is written. State codes were added to ensure that all student groups fully understand that they are protected; therefore, we do not believe further action is required on these updated policies,” she said.

In addition, Farmer explained that FCPS identified “two specific areas” in the Model Policies where they “were not compliant via policy or practice.” She also explained how these two areas would be addressed by FCPS, saying, “We are required to ensure signage is on single use bathrooms. In addition, school personnel can address a student with a name or pronoun that conflicts with his/her student records, but only if the parent makes this request in writing.”

Regarding student opinion on the matter, one senior, Kayla Grontas, comments, “It’s just how they [students] express themselves, so I don’t think that should be a thing that they need permission from their parents [to do]. Especially since that’s your own choice.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Falconer

Thanks for reading The Falconer. We're happy to provide you with award-winning student journalism since 1963, free from bias, conflicts of interest, and paywalls. We're able to continue with the generous support of our local community. If you're able, please consider making a donation. Any amount is incredibly helpful and allows us to pursue new and exciting opportunities.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Ali Patusky
Ali Patusky, Editor-in-Chief
Hi! My name is Ali Patusky and I am a senior. This is my third year writing for The Falconer, and I am an Editor-in-Chief. I write for a local magazine in addition to the school newspaper and am excited for my last year on the Falconer!  
Donate to The Falconer

All Comments (0)

COMMENTS MUST BE MANUALLY APPROVED BY STAFF BEFORE THEY BECOME VISIBLE. Please remember to follow our comment policy when posting.
Viewing All Approved Comments Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *