A tie vote, which included one abstention, at the Accomack County School Board meeting Tuesday night has killed the adoption of a transgender policy that would allow students to use the bathrooms and play on sports teams that correspond with their chosen gender identity for the time being.
According to the document reviewed in the meeting, the policy is consistent with federal and state law and the purpose of this policy is to foster an educational environment that is safe, welcoming, and free from discrimination and harassment for all students, regardless of the student’s gender identity or expression.
“Gender identity may be demonstrated by a consistent and uniform assertion of the student’s gender identity or a consistent and uniform showing that the student’s gender identity is sincerely held as part of their core identity and belief,” reads the document.
The policy requires teachers and staff to “to use the student’s chosen name and pronouns.”
The hot button issue of sports is also addressed in the document. Schools are required to “allow students to participate in a manner consistent with their gender identity.”
Another hot button issue, the bathroom policy, which was a main theme of concern during the public comment period, reads “Upon a showing of consistent and uniform assertion of the student’s gender identity or that the student’s gender identity is sincerely held as part of their core identity, the student shall be permitted to use the restroom, locker room, or changing facility consistent with the student’s asserted gender identity.”
All eleven individuals who spoke in reference to the transgender policy during the public comment period spoke against it.
“I am aware of the fear of possible monies that might be lost, I’m aware of the possible lawsuits on both sides of the aisle, I’m aware of the fact that many of you have already made up your mind,” said long time Nandua Soccer Coach and Reverend Paul Nolz. “But can we for once as adults stand up for common sense and what is right? Follow the science, check the chromosomes, XX, XY. And it is my hope that you’ll seek out a sensible legal solution for boys and girls to stay in their own appropriate locations. Front Royal, Chesapeake and Newport News have done this, and I believe and trust that you will too.”
Renee Spady of Melfa agreed.
“I’m a parent, I’m also a Christian… These are children that we’re talking about,” said Spady. “We’re not even considered adults till we’re 18, you can’t drink until you 21, and not until 25 is your brain fully developed… and we’re trying to put the children in the bathroom together, the boys in the girls bathroom and the girls in the boys bathroom, because they say the identify that way… I have a child, I want him to be a child, I don’t want him coming home and I have to try to explain something that his mind, his body his reasoning shouldn’t even be trying to comprehend at the moment.”
Voting in favor of the policy was Dr. Ronnie Holden, Paul Bull, Gary Reese and Jesse Speidel. Voting against were Dr. Lisa Johnson, Camesha Handy, Janet Turner and Edward Taylor. Malcom White abstained.
The matter is in all likelihood not settled, as the policy is required by the Federal Department of Education and the Virginia Department of Education.