School board has final say on transgender bathroom requests

By Associated Press

September 1, 2022

ASHLAND, Va. (AP) — A county school board in Virginia has voted to require transgender students seeking to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity to present written requests to school officials — and possibly their disciplinary or criminal records.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Tuesday that the Hanover County School Board’s new policy also gives the board final say in the decision.

In addition, the policy suggests students submit signed statements from doctors or therapists to school administrators verifying that they have been diagnosed with “gender dysphoria and/or that the student consistently and authentically expresses a binary gender identity.”
The policy also suggests that students and their parents present a child’s disciplinary or criminal records.

School Board Chair John Axselle told the newspaper he wants to make sure students submitting a request “don’t have any ulterior intent.”

“Our overall concern truly is all the children,” he said.
Grace Zweckbronner, a transgender student who spoke at a news conference held by Equality Virginia, said the policy was invasive and “targeted bullying.”

“Transgender and nonbinary students just want to use the bathroom in peace,” Zweckbronner said.
The school board oversees a division of about 17,000 students attending schools outside Richmond.
Virginia law required school boards to implement policies for transgender students by the first day of the 2021 school year. But the mandate was not tied to any state funding.
A model policy published by Virginia’s education department states: “Access to facilities such as restrooms and locker rooms that correspond to a student’s gender identity shall be available to all students.”

The ACLU of Virginia sued the county school division late last year for not enacting a transgender bathroom policy by last year’s deadline. The case, which is on behalf of five parents of transgender students, is still pending.

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