MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — Transgender policies were a hot topic at the Montgomery County School Board meeting on Tuesday night.

Students, parents, and other community members asked the school board to change its version of the Virginia Department of Education’s policy regarding student pronouns and gender identity.

Christiansburg High School student Elizabeth Rowland was one of many at the meeting voicing concerns about the school’s policy.

At the request of the student and their parent/legal guardian, schools should allow students to express a chosen name and gender pronouns that reflect their gender identity without any substantiating evidence. School staff should honor the request of the student and their parent/legal guardian. 

Montgomery County Public Schools

“Informing a student’s guardian about their desire to use a different name and pronoun can endanger that student, and it is your job to protect the students you represent — not endanger them,” said Rowland.

Even though the school’s policy allows a student to be called by their chosen name, or referred to as their chosen identities, other students say this causes trouble for specific students.

“I can say with certainty that one of the most common issues is that a lot of transgender students, in particular, have unaccepting parents,” said Rowland.

Other advocates agreed with Rowland’s concern, saying that the policy could out a student to their parents before they’re ready.

“Taking away their right will not improve anything,” said Faith Ludwig, a high school student. “Instead, it would lead to more trauma and conflict. This will result in a decline in mental health and more suicide because they cannot be who they are.”

It is important to note that Montgomery County Public Schools and every school district in Virginia has to have some kind of policy that offers a way for students to change their names or gender pronouns to something other than what is on their birth certificate.

Schools shall allow students to use a name and gender pronouns that reflect their gender identity without any substantiating evidence. School staff shall, at the request of a student or parent, when using a name or pronoun to address the student, use the name and pronoun that correspond to their gender identity.

Virginia Department of Education

WFXR News contacted members of the school board for comments on their policy, but as of this writing, has not received a response.

The Virginia Department of Education’s policy for treatment of transgender students in Virginia’s public schools can be viewed in its entirety by clicking here.

You can also watch the full recording of the Montgomery County School Board meeting from Tuesday, March 1 by following this link.