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ACPS ignores Gov. Youngkin’s recommended policies on treatment of transgender students

Alexandria City High School’s homecoming football game at home against West Potomac on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021 (staff photo by James Cullum)

Alexandria City Public Schools says it will not comply with Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s policies restricting transgender services.

School Board Chair Michelle Rief and Superintendent Melanie Kay-Wyatt informed parents of the school system’s stance on Monday. It’s the second straight year that ACPS has refused the policies, which are updated annually and recommend restricting trans bathroom and pronoun use.

Rief and Kay-Wyatt were “dismayed” when the policies were introduced and wrote that ACPS will uphold gender affirming policies that go back to 1996.

“(W)e want to reaffirm our commitment to all students, staff and families, including our LGBTQIA+ community, that ACPS will continue to both implement and develop gender affirming policies for all ACPS students,” they wrote. “School Board Policy JB: Nondiscrimination in Education protects students from discrimination due to gender expression, gender identity, sexual harassment and transgender status.”

The Virginia Department Of Education’s 2023 Model Policies include “clear and useful” suggestions to school systems for preferred pronoun usage, the “maintenance of student records,” the “identification of students,” the “enforcement of sex-based dress codes” and more.

“Practices such as compelling others to use preferred pronouns is premised on the ideological belief that gender is a matter of personal choice or subjective experience, not sex,” according to the model policies. “Virginians reject this belief.”

Not so in Fairfax County and Arlington County, which both rejected the 2023 policies, according to The Washington Post.

Youngkin, a Republican, made waves in 2022 when the Virginia Department of Education first introduced his administration’s model policies, which reversed the more liberally minded policies of former Democrat Gov. Ralph Northam.

Rief and Kay-Wyatt also wrote that the School Board will discuss the policies at the beginning of the school year.

“ACPS will continue to ensure that its policies are in alignment with the ACPS Strategic Plan while also complying with federal and state laws,” they wrote.