After Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration proposed changes to transgender students’ rights in September 2022, 72,000 public comments flooded in.
But with no indication of when policies that restrict bathroom use and pronoun preference could be implemented, some students in Virginia public schools are afraid of losing their safe spaces at school. “Many students have reported increased anxiety and fears related to the model policies’ ramifications,” said Abram Clear, the school programs coordinator for Side by Side, an organization working with schools across Virginia to support LGBTQ youth. “In particular, trans and nonbinary students who have found safe, affirming spaces at school have expressed concerns about being forcibly outed to their guardians.” While some guardians openly support their student’s sexuality, other discussions about gender identity can be dismissed or misunderstood at home.
If the new policies on transgender students are passed and educators are required to out students to their guardians, LGBTQ students can run a higher risk of negative mental health, as well as possible physical danger at home.
Transgender and nonbinary students also worry that these policies embolden educators who are already dismissive of their identities.