A northern Virginia school board has voted to approve a new LGBTQ+ inclusive policy that requires teachers to respect preferred pronouns and gender names.
On August 11, the Loudoun County School Board approved Policy 8040, aka Rights of Transgender and Gender-Expansive Students, which won in a 7-2 vote.
Loudoun County Public Schools released an online statement explaining the passing of the legislation: “The School Board developed Policy 8040 to meet the requirements of Virginia House Bill 145 and Virginia Senate Bill 161, enacted by the 2020 Virginia General Assembly.
“This legislation created Section § 22.1-23.3 of the Code of Virginia, treatment of transgender students. This Code section states that each Virginia school board shall adopt a policy that reflects the requirements set forth by the Code.”
The statement also iterated that school policies and student safety is a “one priority… to foster the success of all students and ensure they feel safe, secure, accepted and ready to learn at school.”
The policy also states that mental health professionals “shall complete training on topics relating to LGBTQ+ students, including procedures for preventing and responding to bullying, harassment and discrimination based on gender identity/expression.”
Following the trans-inclusive policy, the Virginia school board set a five-year deadline to ensure all school restrooms facilities are appropriate and renovated to add privacy for students, according to NBC Washington reports.
Nick Gothard, a student, spoke to NBC Washington described the new policy as “a breath of fresh air”.
“It’s a signal to all the trans and LGBTQ students in Loudoun that they’re welcomed here, that they’re loved here and that they’re protected here,” Gothard told the news outlet.
While many have been grateful for the progressive regulations, the new policy has also faced backlash at Loudoun County.
Physical education teacher Byron Cross was placed on leave after expressing the new policy was against his faith.
“I’m a teacher but I serve God first, and I will not affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa because it’s against my religion, it’s lying to my child, it’s abuse to a child and it’s sinning against our God,” Cross said.
The US has seen a disturbing rise of anti-trans policies being introduced and passed. Currently, there are more than 234 anti-LGBTQ bills under consideration in state legislatures across the US.
There are 122 proposed bills that directly discriminate against transgender people and more than 60 of these bills, like the Women’s Sports Act, ban transgender girls and women from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity.