Local school systems have resources for LGBTQ + students

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HISTORICAL TRIANGLE – Since the days of the Stonewall riots and the AIDS epidemic, members of the LGBTQ + community have seen public attitudes change dramatically over the past decades.

Not so long ago, Virginia was the subject of a lawsuit in federal court over whether to allow students to use toilets that match their gender identities rather than those assigned to them. at birth.

RELATED STORY: Federal Judge Sides With Gavin Grimm In Transgender Toilet Case Against Gloucester County School Board

But what resources do LGBTQ + students have today in public school systems? How are teachers and staff trained to respond to students who may question their gender and / or gender identity? Where are the public schools now in terms of facilitating a stimulating and positive environment for LGBTQ + students?

In accordance with the Virginia code §22.1-23.3

For the 2021-2022 school year, school systems will have to adopt policies consistent with Virginia Code §22.1-23.3. This calls on the Commonwealth of Education Department to develop model policies for school board compliance regarding the treatment of transgender students in public primary and secondary schools. This will include information, advice, procedures and expected standards.

The new guidelines include making the school system compliant with non-discrimination laws, maintaining a safe and supportive learning environment free from discrimination and harassment, preventing and responding to bullying, conducting student records, student identification, protection of student privacy and confidentiality of sensitive information. , how to proceed with the application of gender-based dress codes, and the participation of students in gender-specific school activities and events and the use of school facilities.

Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools

Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools have taken some steps to make the school environment more inclusive for students who identify as members of the LGBTQ + community.

School counselors are available to provide assistance for the social and emotional needs of students and their families.

In addition, students are allowed to use the bathroom of their gender identity, not their homework. School administrators are also open to speaking with individuals to consider toilet options on a case-by-case basis to include gender-neutral toilets like the one in the school clinic.

Several schools in the system have clubs for LGBTQ + students and allies. For example, Jamestown High School has the Prism Club.

This summer and through the fall, employees of the school system will receive training in order to comply with state directives that will come into effect for the 2021-2022 school year.

However, there is no clear course regarding the school system’s requirement for teachers and staff to use pronouns of a student’s gender identity and name rather than assigned ones. at birth.

“One thing we are sure of is that education and training are essential in supporting both students and staff,” said Eileen Cox, spokesperson for WJCC public schools.

York County School Division

“The York County School Division ensures that all students have the resources to provide a safe and welcoming environment while fostering positive relationships between and among staff, students and families,” wrote Katherine Goff, Door – spoken by York County School Division (YCSD). an email on June 16.

According to Goff, school counselors in the division work with all students, especially those who may be victims of harassment, bullying, or struggling with socio-emotional issues.

At the secondary level, there is a paid position called the Student Connection Coach. “This post is used to help students intervene in academic engagement, attendance, and socio-emotional learning,” Goff wrote.

When it comes to student engagement, several high schools have clubs that support LGBTQ + students.

At the faculty and staff level, cultural learning and awareness has been a fundamental part of the division’s professional development efforts, both at the division level and at the school level. According to Goff, the division will work this summer to review guidance documents from the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), which provides resources and modules related to diversity and equity to determine appropriate material and content for the staff.

“As part of YCSD’s current five-year strategic plan, the division is committed to providing staff with research-based professional development to meet the needs of our diverse student and family population,” Goff wrote.

YCSD also follows all federal and state regulations and guidelines regarding the use of pronouns, name identities, and toilets, meaning that students can use the bathroom of their preferred gender and have the right to be treated by their own. preferred pronouns.

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