School Leaders Wrestle with Parents’ Role in Student’s Gender Expression

The School Board is planning to add “gender expression” to the list of characteristics to be protected from demeaning or harmful actions in the division’s educational and work environments. 

Questions remain, however, about how that will be implemented on school campuses. 

The issue was sent to the School Board from its Equity Committee, which also proposed a proclamation of No Name-Calling Week, a national anti-bullying campaign that runs Jan. 18-22.

“One of the things I love about the Equity Committee is the ability of that committee and the space that we’ve created within that committee to have some really difficult and challenging conversations. This was also an emotional discussion,” said School Board Chairwoman Brenda Sheridan (Sterling), who also chairs the Equity Committee.

Under the recommendation, gender expression would be added to the list of protected characteristics that currently includes socioeconomic level, sexual orientation, perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.

While the measure is intended to address concerns about student mental health, including suicide prevention, School Board members are wrestling with how to implement the protection. 

A draft policy states that: “All persons have the right to be addressed by the names and pronouns that correspond to their gender identity without any substantiating evidence. School staff shall, at the request of an adult student or parent/guardian, address the student using the asserted name and pronoun. The school principal/designee, in collaboration with the students who are minors and a member of the school Unified Mental Health Team, should meet with the parent/guardian of the student to develop a plan to support the student’s needs related to gender expression requests.”

School leaders are debating whether parents should be notified of—or required to approve—a student’s request to be called by a different name or pronoun. Some board members, and several speakers during the board’s public input session, raised worries about increasing or causing conflicts with families where a student’s identity preference isn’t accepted or isn’t known. Others worried about excluding parents, potentially resulting in students having one identity at home and a different one at school. 

Ian Serotkin (Blue Run) proposed sending the issue to a committee for more detailed review, but a majority opposed. 

“When we rush, we make bad decisions and we have to get out of the habit of doing that,” Serotkin said. “This is too important to get wrong:”

The policy could come to a vote at the board’s Jan. 18 meeting.

The final version is expected to be shaped by a still-not-finalized model policy on the issue under development by the Virginia Department of Education. 

Division Counsel Stephen DeVita said the state leaders appear to be coming down on the side of students, with the school staff focusing on the safety and wellbeing of the students and having some role in helping families find a successful outcome.

“I think we’re locked into whatever VDoE puts in this policy,” he said.

7 thoughts on “School Leaders Wrestle with Parents’ Role in Student’s Gender Expression

  • 2020-12-22 at 3:55 pm
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    Government Vs. Parents, and the prize is our own children. You know who else loved that sort of thinking? The National Socialist German Workers’ Party. They excelled at it.

    This group of people can’t figure a way to educate our children, but they have all the time in the world to come up with ways to alienate children from their parents. They always, always, go after our kids.

  • 2020-12-22 at 6:11 pm
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    How do children know what this even is! There was the 7 y.o. on some social media site this year talking about his/her sexuality. Dear God, what is happening to our society that a 7 y.o. baby is making these types of statements! People have the right to be who they are but how are they making these decisions? What are they exposed to!? Is our society creating this by making such an issue of it? I’m at a loss, just glad I don’t have to deal with this. I feel for parents….teachers and schools need to worry about educating. THAT is their job!

  • 2020-12-22 at 6:12 pm
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    WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOPU PEOPLE?

    Simple
    1 – parents should provide accepted input into the performance of ALL STAFF
    2.- ALL violations of safety (bullying, assault, battery etc) should be reported to the school board by school and the school board should REQUIRE follow-up to insure it stops!
    3 – If reported bullying (including name calling and improper gender identity) is repeated by the same bully all adults in that school who were able to keep the bully from being alone with the victim need to find work elsewhere. No child is safe when the adults in the school aren’t responsible for the victim of bullying being harmed again by the same bully!

    Now – enough of the silliness of FICTIONAL/NOVEL techniques to cover up the abject failure to hold adults accountable for NOT DOING THEIR JOB TO PROTECT STUDENTS! (ALL STUDENTS). Serve your client – PARENTS! 🙂

  • 2020-12-22 at 9:12 pm
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    It really is time to remove your children from the Loudoun County Public School system.

  • 2020-12-22 at 9:14 pm
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    The school board seems to have forgotten their role in a child’s education. The only role they are asked to do is to teach our children to read and write, math, science, and history (actual history, not their version of it) and that is all! Somehow, these school board members have decided that it is their job to run every aspect of a child’s life. They’re trying so hard to make children feel accepted that they are convincing some of them that they are something they’re not. All a child has to do is express the slightest bit of curiosity about their sexuality or gender, and these teachers pounce on them and brainwash them instead of just letting them figure it out on their own.
    When she was younger, my daughter went through a phase where she wanted to dress like a boy. We didn’t encourage her or discourage her, we just let her work out her life on her own and however things worked out was fine with us. Well, a teacher noticed this (3rd grade) and decided she should intervene and convince my daughter that she actually wanted to BE a boy, even when my daughter said she just liked boy’s clothes better than girl’s clothes. The teacher couldn’t let it go and asked her if she wanted to be called a different name. Luckily, the teacher mentioned this during a conference and we instructed her to just leave our daughter alone and let her figure things out on her own. Here was are, 10 years later and our daughter is the girliest girl there is and she just laughs at her tomboy phase.

  • 2020-12-22 at 9:29 pm
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    It’s not just national socialists. International socialists also thought they could override parental authority. As did Alinskyite Hillary Clinton.

    This board promotes gender dysphoria, which is damaging to kids.

    Instead, they should follow the science. There are two sexes – male and female! That’s defined by XY and XX chromosomes. Something they should’ve learned in biology class. Their radically stupid ideology drives them to untenably stupid positions.

    Just because someone declares they are something they are not, doesn’t make it so.

    For example, if I were to declare I’m English royalty and want to be addressed as “Your Royal Highness” doesn’t mean that it’s true. And, anyone with a brain would not do it.

    If this misguided board or school administrators or anyone else demands that teachers call a boy a girl or visa versa, it’s they who are denying reality and infringing on everyone else’s first amendment rights.

    They should be sued, and removed from any position of authority in our school systems.

  • 2020-12-24 at 12:46 pm
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    No name calling week? They cant be serious with that.

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