Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares published an opinion declaring that school boards throughout the commonwealth must adopt regulations identical to Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s “model policies” for the treatment of transgender students.
The policies, which have rankled many LGBTQ advocates and allies, are expected to serve as guidelines for how local school districts deal with students who are transgender or gender-nonconforming.
Under the policies, students are barred from using school facilities or participating in extracurricular activities that don’t match the sex listed on their official school record.
Changes to that gender marker require parents to submit legal documentation, such as a birth certificate or passport, to schools.
Parents must provide written permission in order for students to go by a different name or pronouns; however, individual teachers and administrators can ignore parents’ requests even in cases where permission has been granted.
Miyares’s advisory opinion, which is not legally binding, asserts that the model policies are perfectly compliant with federal and state nondiscrimination laws, and asserts that school boards must adopt policies in line with them — although state law is silent on how the state can compel school boards into compliance, reports NBC Washington.
Additionally, several conservative districts refused to adopt pro-transgender policies put forth by former Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration, and were never punished for doing so.
Therefore, it’s unclear what steps state authorities can take to force more liberal jurisdictions that have rejected or failed to adopt the model polices, including Fairfax County, Arlington County, Richmond City, and Virginia Beach.
The ACLU of Virginia has sought to remind districts that the attorney general’s opinion is not binding.
“Virginia courts are not required to follow it,” the ACLU said in a statement, according to Virginia Mercury. “School boards continue to have an obligation to create safe, inclusive school environments for all students in compliance with state and federal law.”
Gov. DeSantis recently appointed Tina Descovich, a former Brevard County school board member and co-founder of the parents’ rights group Moms for Liberty, as one of two appointees for open seats on the Florida Commission on Ethics, which oversees conduct and conflict-of-interest issues officers and employees of Florida and its various political subdivisions, reports the Orlando Sentinel.
Moms for Liberty initially emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic in opposition to school closures and face mask and social distancing measures imposed by schools. But the group has since embraced the larger platform of “parental rights,” focusing on efforts to ban or censor books or curriculum content that its members deem as “pornographic,” including LGBTQ-related content.
The group’s members have also become politically active, seeking election to various school boards throughout the state. The Southern Poverty Law Center recently attacked the group in its annual “year in hate” review, calling the organization an “extremist anti-governmental group.”
Descovich’s appointment must be approved by the Florida Senate, which is expected to speedily confirm her due to the Republican-led Senate’s partisan balance, which significantly favors the GOP.
Jennifer Jenkins, who defeated Descovich in her 2020 re-election bid, told Politico that she worries Descovich, in conjunction with the rest of the commission, will use her position to retaliate against elected officials who don’t conform to all of DeSantis’s “anti-woke” agenda.
In February, the governor unveiled a list of more than a dozen “woke” school board members he’s seeking to defeat and replace with conservative foot-soldiers during the 2024 elections.
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