Draft Policy Would Expand Transgender Students’ Rights

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A pivotal decision will be made by the School Board regarding transgender students rights.

This evening, the school board Pupil Services Committee will be presented with a draft policy designed to protect transgender students from discrimination, guarantee their ability to participate in sports, and require teachers and staff to address them by their preferred name and pronouns.

The draft policy, titled “Draft Policy 8040 Rights of Transgender and Gender-Expansive Students,” states that “All students shall be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, transgender status, or gender identity/expression. LCPS is committed to supporting student privacy and providing equal educational opportunities.”

One of the ways the bill aims to do this is by requiring staff to use a student’s preferred name or pronouns consistent with their gender identity, including gender neutral pronouns, regardless of the legal name and gender of the student. Students simply need to notify staff of their preferred name and do not need to provide any evidence of their gender identity in order to be protected by this policy.

Additionally, the policy requires that schools allow transgender students to participate in sports consistent with their gender identity. If passed, this policy would represent a major win for transgender students and activists in Loudoun County by guaranteeing their right to participate in gendered sports such as cheerleading and football.

The policy would also require schools to provide reasonable bathroom accommodations for transgender students, as well as allow them to use whichever bathroom corresponds best with their gender identity without interference. The policy suggests that schools provide gender-neutral or single person bathrooms to transgender students not comfortable with the main gendered bathrooms, where possible.

Finally, the policy would require all staff to undergo professional developmental training on recognizing and stopping bullying and harassment based on gender identity and expression.
According to county Director of Communications and Community Engagement, Joan Sahlgren, “It is anticipated that the final version of policy would be adopted by the school board before the start of the 2021-22 school year,” allowing these protections to be in place as soon as next school year.

Online public comment is currently open on this policy, and there will be an additional opportunity for in-person comment this Thursday at 5pm when it is introduced. Sahlgren said, “LCPS values student voice and encourages students to provide feedback.”