Richmond School Board approves policies to protect LGBTQ students from discrimination
By Keya Vakil
June 4, 2019

The Richmond School Board has passed new policies aimed at protecting LGBTQ students from discrimination, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The new Student Code of Responsible Ethics says that students “must not be kept out of activities because of gender (except as allowed under Title IX), color, race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression” while also adding that the school district’s dress code should be enforced for all students, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

In an interview with the Dispatch, RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras said that the system wants to protect LGBTQ+ students from discrimination.

“Our LGBTQ+ students face discrimination and challenges every day…and we literally have kids considering taking their lives because who they are is under attack every day…That’s not the school system I want us to be.”

The new policy is the result of work between Liz Doerr, the School Board’s vice chairwoman and 1st District representative, and Side by Side, a Richmond-based advocacy group.

The measure comes at a time when the federal government is reigning in protections against LGBTQ individuals and the Virginia General Assembly rejected bills that would have banned housing and employment discrimination against LGBTQ Virginians.

Students face especially high rates of discrimination and Ted Lewis, Side by Side’s executive director, told the Dispatch more than 60% of local LGBTQ students surveyed by the organization said they had thought about killing themselves in the past six months.

The new policies are being heralded as a step in the right direction, but Lewis wants more to be done and called for RPS to allow students to use chosen names and pronouns, while also pushing for more gender-neutral bathrooms in city schools.

The new Student Code, which was approved by a 7-2 vote by the school board on Monday night, will take effect next school year.

  • Keya Vakil

    Keya Vakil is the deputy political editor at COURIER. He previously worked as a researcher in the film industry and dabbled in the political world.

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