We, the High School Principals of Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), are writing to ensure every student, faculty and staff member, parent and guardian know that we understand the angst amongst our LGBTQIA+ students, staff, and community caused by the recent proposed model policy from the Virginia Department of Education. First and foremost, we want everyone to know that we are committed to providing every student, staff, and community member a welcoming, supportive culture that is based on equity and mutual respect.
Principals, STOP! Stop herding our children into groups for manipulation. Stop telling kids that parents are their greatest threat. Any “angst amongst the LGBTQIA+ community” is caused by this LIE that the model policy is oppressive. Did any of the principals even read it?
Here is the language that supposedly gets everyone upset (deletions for brevity are non-substantive. Read the policy on the VDOE website):
Parents have the right to make decisions with respect to their children:
Schools shall respect parents’ values and beliefs: Parents have the right to instill in and nurture values and beliefs for their own children and make decisions concerning their children’s education and upbringing in accordance with their customs, faith, and family culture.
Schools shall defer to parents to make the best decisions with respect to their children: Parents are in the best position to work with their children and their children’s health care providers to determine (a) what names, nicknames, and/or pronouns if any, shall be used for their child by teachers and school staff while their child is at school, (b) whether their child engages in any counseling or social transition at school that encourages a gender that differs from their child’s sex, or (c) whether their child expresses a gender that differs with their child’s sex while at school.
Schools shall keep parents informed about their children’s well-being: To ensure parents are able to make the best decisions with respect to their child, school personnel shall keep parents fully informed about all matters that may be reasonably expected to be important to a parent, including, and without limitation, matters related to their child’s health, and social and psychological development.
Schools shall serve the needs of all students: The Department is committed to … ensure a positive, safe, and nurturing learning environment for all students. Each student’s individual needs should be taken into consideration by their school, … with due sensitivity to the needs of other students and the practical requirements of the teaching and learning environment. Schools should attempt to accommodate students with distinctive needs, including any student with a persistent and sincere belief that his or her gender differs from his or her sex.
Schools shall partner with parents:
Schools shall respect all students: All children in Virginia have a right to learn, free from unlawful discrimination and harassment.
Mary Beth Style, MSW
Parents Out of Exile