Accomack County School Board passes amended gender policies

September 20, 2023
Accomack County Public Schools

The Accomack County School Board amended their  anti discrimination policies in order to comply with the Virginia Board of Education guidelines at their September 5 work session.

The Board adopted the amended policy by a 7 to 2 vote, with Board members Ed Taylor and Janet Turner casting opposing votes.

The revised policy contains provisions that prevent schools from counseling students pertaining to gender without written permission from the parents. Parents or legal guardians must be given the opportunity to object before counseling services pertaining to gender are given.

Schools are also required to maintain an official record for each student that includes the student’s legal name and sex.

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Schools can only change the legal name or sex in a student’s or former student’s official record only if  a parent or eligible student,  defined as being over the age of 18, submits a legal document such as a birth certificate, state or federal id, passport or court order substantiating the student or former student’s change of legal name or sex.

School officials will refer to each student using only the pronouns appropriate to the sex appearing on the student’s official record.  Only if an eligible student or student’s parent has instructed the school in writing that such other pronouns can be used.

For any school program, event, or activity including extracurricular activities that are separated by sex, the appropriate participation of students shall be determined by sex rather than gender or gender identity.

Overnight travel accommodations, locker rooms or other intimate spaces used for school-related activities and events shall be based on sex. Reasonable modifications to this policy will be made only to the extent required by law.

Students shall use bathrooms that correspond to his or her sex except to the extent that federal law otherwise requires.  Single use bathrooms should be available with appropriate signage.

Students diagnosed with gender dysphoria by a licensed health care provider should consult with the school’s ADA coordinator regarding any requested services.

For any athletic program or activity that is separated by sex, appropriate participation of students shall be determined by sex rather than gender or gender identity.  The school shall provide reasonable modifications to this policy only to the extent required by law.

The policy also includes language pertaining to training staff annually on health and mental wellness support for all students.   The schools will provide bullying prevention education and will require schools to inform parents of bullying incidents within 24 hours of being informed of the allegation of bullying.

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We reached out to Board members Ed Taylor and Janet Turner to find out their objections.  Taylor said that he thought the Board should have had more time to make sure these policies will help guarantee the safety of all students and faculty.  He recommended that the Board postpone adopting the measures, as several other school divisions have done, to allow more time to study the implications, but he did not have the votes to do that.   Taylor said he welcomed the policy of requiring parents to be involved and overall the new plan was an improvement over the previous plan passed in 2021.

As of this time, Turner has not responded.

The full policy can be read here.

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