Protections for transgender students face court challenge in Lynchburg

Lynchburg & Central Virginia News

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) – On Wednesday, there was a court challenge to the Virginia Department of Education’s model policies for the treatment of transgender students.

The policies lay out a framework for how schools should treat transgender and non-binary students. In addition, the policies instruct schools to allow students to use facilities that match their gender identity and require teachers to use a student’s transitioned name and pronouns.

The Christian Action Network and other groups sued to stop these policies from going into place.

Judge Fred Watson has not made a decision in the case but he is saying that he is taking the matter under advisement.

One local example is from a woman named Brigitte, who lives with her family in Floyd.

An amicus brief was filed by Equality Virginia and the ACLU of Virginia that tells the story of Brigitte’s youngest son, who is referred to as K.

K came out to his parents as transgender at the age of 12 and began socially transitioning in the seventh grade.

The brief says that the school’s policy made K’s transition hard, saying, “The school would unfortunately not allow any discussion of LGBTQ issues. This blocked K and his teachers from being able to explain to his peers what was happening…they were unable to normalize K’s experience.”

In high school, K was isolated from his classmates. His teachers would use the wrong name and pronouns which took a toll on his mental health. His grades subsequently dropped.

The family ultimately received enough support to send K to a private school with policies that affirmed his identity, improving his performance and mental health.

Court filings show that a plaintiff in the case argued that the model policies would hurt parents like Sara Via, saying, “At a minimum, therefore, Ms. Via’s children foreseeably will see members of the opposite sex enter their restrooms since the Model Policies allow boys to go into girls’ restrooms and vice versa.”

As the National Center for Transgender Equality says, transgender men are men and transgender women are women.

According to the model policy, “Students should be allowed to use the facility that corresponds to their gender identity.”

The amicus brief also says, “Policies that operate as though cisgender children need protection from the mere presence of transgender children perpetuate ‘a special kind of discrimination against a child that he will no doubt carry with him for life.'”

Attorneys for the state argue that the case should be dismissed because the plaintiffs do not have standing, saying, “The appellants cannot claim that they are aggrieved on the basis of their speculation about the kinds of policies that school divisions may adopt and how they might be implemented or enforced.”

The Attorney General’s office was not able to comment and the Christian Action Network referred WFXR News to the motion they filed in court to block the policies as their only comment.

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