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Virginia school district passes controversial policy forcing teachers to use trans pronouns

Transgender
A sign outside a classroom taken in 2016. |

A Virginia school district has passed a new policy that, among other things, allows trans-identified students to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity and requires teachers to refer to students by their preferred names and pronouns. 

The Loudoun County School Board voted 7-2 on Wednesday to approve Policy 8040: Rights of Transgender and Gender-Expansive Students despite considerable opposition to the proposal.

Among its provisions, Policy 8040 requires that school faculty and staff use the chosen name and pronouns of a student who identifies as “gender-expansive or transgender.”

“School staff shall, at the request of a student or parent/legal guardian, when using a name or pronoun to address the student, use the name and pronoun that correspond to their consistently asserted gender identity,” reads the policy.

“The use of gender-neutral pronouns is appropriate. Inadvertent slips in the use of names or pronouns may occur; however, staff or students who intentionally and persistently refuse to respect a student’s gender identity by using the wrong name and gender pronoun are in violation of this policy.”

The policy also allows students to use the restroom or locker room “that corresponds to their consistently asserted gender identity,” noting that school administrators should consider adding “gender-inclusive or single-user restrooms” for additional privacy.

The school board also provided a frequently-asked-questions document on the new guidelines and their implementation. The page notes that while there will still be facilities explicitly marked for males and females, LCPS plans “to improve student privacy and to promote the creation of single-user restrooms that are available to all students in a ratio appropriate for the enrollment and size of the school.”

According to the FAQ document, LCPS recommended that school staff “make efforts to eliminate gender-based practices to the extent possible,” claiming that such practices “can have the effect of marginalizing, stigmatizing, and excluding students, regardless of their gender identity or gender expression.”

“Examples of practices that may be based on gender, and which should be eliminated, include grouping students for class activities, gender-based homecoming or prom courts, limitations on who can attend as ‘couples’ at school dances, and gender-based events such as father-daughter dances,” continued the FAQ document.

Critics of the controversial policy include Loudoun County School Board member Jeffrey Morse.

“The policy is not needed. The policy does not solve the issues that it's purported to solve. The policy has forced our focus out of education and I will not support it,” stated Morse, as reported by Fox 5.

The policy garnered national attention when Bryon Tanner Cross, a teacher at Leesburg Elementary School, was suspended by LCPS for speaking out against the proposed policy at a school board meeting in May.

During the public comments section of the meeting, Cross told the board that as a Christian, he was unable to “affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa.”

“My name is Tanner Cross, and I am speaking out of love for those who suffer with gender dysphoria,” stated Cross at the meeting. “I love all of my students, but I will never lie to them regardless of the consequences.”

Cross sued the school district in response to the suspension, with a judge granting the Christian teacher a temporary injunction for his reinstatement in June. LCPS is appealing the decision.

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