One worried mother said she’s afraid her young daughter will have to undress in front of “biological male,” transgender students.
A conservative, faith-based coalition has filed a lawsuit against Virginia, claiming the state’s new guidelines on the treatment of transgender students in public schools violate parental privilege as well as students’ First Amendment rights.
According to The Associated Press, the lawsuit was filed joint by The Family Foundation of Virginia, the Founding Freedoms Law Center, an individual parent from Virginia’s Hanover County.
Together, the plaintiffs have requested that a judge rule against the new policies and send them back to the Virginia Department of Education for further revision.
The Associated Press recalls several of the concerned policies. Under Virginia’s model rules, “access to facilities such as restrooms and locker rooms that correspond to a student’s gender identity shall be available to all students.” Transgender students will also be permitted to use pronouns that correspond with their gender identity; if other students refuse to use the same pronouns, they could face in-school disciplinary action for harassment, bullying, or discrimination.
Victoria Cobb, president of The Family Foundation and the Founding Freedoms Law Center, told The Associated Press that the model policies censure conservative parents’ child-rearing rights.
“We maintain our concerns that these guidelines erase basic parental rights and protection of bodily privacy and safety rights for even our youngest students,” Cobb said.
Furthermore, Cobb claims that policies which are overly-respectful to transgender students risk “erasing” certain families’ core values.
“The constitution of Virginia ensures that the fundamental right of parents to raise their children in accordance with their own beliefs does not simply get erased simply because the state of Virginia chooses to dismiss those rights to fulfill its own ideological agenda,” Cobb said.
Similarly, plaintiff Sarah Via—whose two children go to school in Hanover district—said she’s afraid her 10-year old daughter may have to undress in front of a biologically male transgender woman once she reaches middle school and has gym class.
“Like most girls, she wants to be modest and wants to choose when a biological male can see her body. How is it appropriate for biological males and school administrators to take that choice from her?” Via asked.
“This policy concerns me because it usurps and undermines my authority—my parental authority—over my children,” she added.
However, transgender advocates have said that the state’s guidelines are a welcome and necessary measure, needed to protect students against discrimination.
Vee Lamneck, executive director of Equality Virginia, said the transgender-treatment policies will help protect transgender children from emotional harm.
“We know that Virginia LGBTQ students, specifically transgender youth, face significantly higher rates of discrimination and harassment not only from their peers, but school staff as well. The Virginia Department of Education’s guidance is an important step in the right direction of making schools more inclusive so every child feels safe, welcomed and valued,” Lamneck said.