HANOVER COUNTY, Va. — The Hanover County School Board voted 5-2 to approve a new bathroom policy for transgender and non-binary students.
The new policy has transgender and non-binary students apply to the school board to be granted permission to use a different bathroom or locker room. For bathrooms, this application would include a required request along with other optional documents.
The school board may ask for a student statement, a parent statement, a signed document from a doctor or counselor, disciplinary and criminal records, and information related to the privacy of other students.
Those with past permission will not have to reapply.
The policy was presented by the school board earlier this month after it was crafted in a year-and-a-half of closed sessions. The board said the policy was largely put together by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) that the board has been consulting.
The newly-adopted policy comes following a lawsuit and the district not having a specific policy to protect transgender students despite a Virginia law that went into effect last summer requiring school districts to adopt state policies. Those policies state schools can’t use methods that could out students to parents or question the way they identify.
The new policy has been a hotly discussed topic, with community members being vocal on both sides of the topic. In an August 16 meeting, an unruly audience nearly forced the school board to clear the room during their meeting.
In that meeting, parents concerned about the policy said it was unfair and that it punishes students by making them jump through hoops, criminalizes them and outs them.
“We’re disappointed. We expected the result we got tonight,” one meeting attended said.
“Who are you to decide if someone is trans enough to use the bathroom that will keep them safe?” another attendee said.
On the other side, those in support of the policy commended the school board for creating a policy that they believe protects all kids.
“I do support the decision. I feel like it encompasses parental rights,” another attendee said.
“I think what we saw tonight was an effort to make sure every single student was protected,” another community member said.
Prior to the final vote, school board member Robert Hundley asked the board to add an amendment to take out the part of the policy where the board could possibly ask for criminal records.
This was voted down.
The newly-approved policy will go into effect from this point forward.
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