Under a controversial bill making its way through Virginia’s General Assembly, teachers in public schools across the state who suspect that one of their students might be transgender would be required to contact that student’s parents.
The Republican-backed legislation calls on teachers to contact a student’s parents if they have “reason to believe” that the student is self-identifying as a gender that is different from their biological sex.
Teachers would need to ask at least one of the student’s parents if they are “aware of the student’s mental state and whether the parent wishes to obtain or has already obtained counseling for such student.”
While the legislation has some Republican support, it is likely to be voted down in the Virginia Senate, which is controlled by Democrats.
Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin has expressed support for similar ideas.
For example, Youngkin’s proposed changes to Virginia’s guidance on transgender student policies would require parental signoff on the use of any name or pronoun other than what’s in a student’s official record.
The policies say that participation in certain school programming and use of school facilities should be based on a student’s biological sex, with modifications offered only to the extent required under federal law.
It led to student activists holding school walkouts across Virginia in September.
“We decided to hold these walkouts as kind of a way to … disrupt schools and essentially have students be aware of what’s going on,” Natasha Sanghvi, a Northern Virginia high school senior and member of the Pride Liberation Project who helped organize the resistance effort, told The Associated Press.
Sanghvi said the existing, more permissive state policies, which were adopted under former Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration, had been powerful in helping students feel affirmed in their identities at school. The new ones, she said, have the potential to harm “every single queer student in the state of Virginia.”
Defenders of Youngkin’s policies, some of whom weighed in through an online public comment period, said the changes lent greater respect to the role of parents in their children’s lives.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.