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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed two lawsuits Thursday against the Virginia Department of Education over its parental rights model policies.
The department adopted the Model Policies on Ensuring Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for All Students and Parents in July 2023, which “safeguard parental rights” when it comes to their children’s education. The ACLU, which is suing on behalf of two transgender students, accused the department of pushing an “ideological and political agenda” by only allowing biological females in women’s sports, locker rooms and bathrooms and not using preferred pronouns.
“In both cases, we argue that the 2023 Model Policies do not comply with the 2020 state law requiring VDOE to develop model policies ensuring inclusive and equitable treatment of transgender and nonbinary students in Virginia public schools,” the ACLU’s press release reads.
The department’s policies require students to use bathrooms and locker rooms based on biological sex, with an exception if parents request that their child use a separate bathroom if they have concerns about their child’s “privacy.” Students are also required to participate in sports that match their biological sex.
One of the plaintiffs alleges in the lawsuit that the model policies put transgender students at “risk of further harassment” and criticized the provision requiring teachers and students to use biological pronouns. Instead, the complaint touts the previous policies which required schools to hide a student’s transgender identity from parents.
Todd Reid, a spokesperson for the department, told the DCNF that they had not “received copies of the lawsuits and … are unable to discuss ongoing litigation.”
In September, several parents filed a lawsuit against the Virginia Beach School Board for refusing to adopt the model policies and demanded that schools protect “the rights of parents.” Other school boards, such as the Amherst County School Board, have also decided against adopting the department’s new rules.
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