Bedford County School Board votes on transgender policy, mask recommendations

Lynchburg & Central Virginia News

UPDATE 11:25 P.M.: The Bedford County School Board voted on two major issues Thursday night: mask mandates and transgender policies.

With regard to face masks recommendations, school board members voted 4-3 in favor of allowing parents the choice to mask their students.

School board members also voted 4-3 to reject the Virginia Department of Education’s model policy regarding transgender students. The decision does not affect the school system’s current practices.

BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — Parents and several school board members were outraged during a Bedford County Public Schools meeting on Thursday evening.

The special meeting was held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 29 at Liberty High School’s auditorium. There, school board members met to discuss two key issues: transgender policies and mask mandates.

“We reviewed the administrative procedures, to ensure that we will be in compliance as we always have with law,” said Dr. Marc Bergin, Superintendent for Bedford County Public Schools.

While the district’s current policies for transgender students were presented, some changes were discussed:

Access to Facilities (Bathrooms and Locker Rooms)

  • Single-use or gender-inclusive facilities will be available this year to any student who seeks privacy.
  • Dressing out for Physical Education (P.E.) will be optional for students
  • For locker rooms that do not have private changing areas, reasonable accommodations or alternatives for increased privacy will be made, as needed, upon request.

The proposed changes didn’t sit well for other school board members, like Martin Leamy, who says he’s concerned about the safety of other students.

“This policy is heavy on transgender rights, but what about the rights of the non-transgender?” asked Leamy.

Bedford County parents were in agreement. Many were seen booing and cheering for certain proposals and concerns.

The possibility of a mask mandate was also discussed.

“Our goal is to make a decision made on real time data from our community and schools,” said Dr. Karen Woodford, Chief Learning Officer for Bedford County Public Schools.

Come August, the school system is recommending students to wear masks and get vaccinated. However, parents and several school board members were in disagreement.

“I can tell you right now my kid is not getting it, and we owe these kids a public education so we have to come up with other options,” said Marcus Hill, a member of the Bedford County School Board.

The school board ultimately voted for face masks to remain a parent’s choice.

Further discussions on the district’s transgender policy will be made at the school board’s next meeting on Aug. 12.

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