ASHLAND — There is no policy regarding transgender students in the Hanover County Public Schools Code of Conduct. In such cases, the system follows state guidelines regarding access to bathroom and locker rooms, a policy that allows students to use bathrooms based on their sexual designation noted on a birth certificate.
A group of parents is urging Hanover County School Board members to change or amend the policy in an effort to disallow transgender students from accessing locker rooms or changing areas not associated with their anatomic gender.
Several of those parents took advantage of a public comment period at the Oct. 8 school board meeting to voice their concerns.
“I would like to speak on the subject of forcing middle school girls to change clothes in the presence of a biological male,” said Kathy Rector. “I am confident that the people who are advocating this arrangement believe they are doing so in an effort to help one young person ...” she continued.
“Any sense of fairness would lead reasonable people to believe that you don’t try to help one person by damaging dozens of others,” Rector said. “Policies like this will continue to drive many students out of the public school system.”
Another parent said he endorsed the policy that identifies a student’s gender by their birth certificate designation.
“The problem is that there is a male student who would like to dress with the females who comes from another state which is apparently willing to alter vital statistics,” Rath said before school board chairman Roger Bourassa interrupted his comments.
Bourassa said discussion of any student except those of the speaker is not allowed for privacy reasons.
“We strongly believe it is inappropriate for an adult to make comments about specific children who are not their own,” Bourassa said. “Our children are innocent and should not be singled out and discussed by adults in a public forum.”
“They were innocent before being told they had to change their clothes in front of a boy,” Rath responded.
He contended the birth certificate supplied in this case is “unofficial” because it doesn’t adhere to Virginia guidelines. Rath suggested keeping the policy currently in place, but urged disallowing altered birth certificates from other states.
Sarah Via asked the board to suspend all gym activities that require seventh graders to change clothes until the issue is resolved.
“I think that’s a very reasonable request,” Via said.
Don Blake is president of The Virginia Christian Alliance and said he sought clarity on Hanover’s policy four years ago, but received no response.
Blake said accommodating transgender students is not the solution.
“Transgenderism is a serious mental disorder and the proper response for the child is to recognize the disorder and treat the patient,” Blake said. “Accommodation is not the answer nor is accommodation in the best interest of the child.”
He referred to transgender students as “mentally disordered.” He also said, “It’s actually a form of child abuse by parents and others to endorse and enable a child to think and believe that their birth sex is not their gender.”
Melody Clark also urged board members to not allow the practice to continue. “Something must be done to rectify the situation,” Clark said. “I will be here every month until something changes.
“One child should not be having this special treatment,” she continued. “It can use another bathroom. It was born male, and it is a male.”
A federal judge ruled earlier this year that the constitutional rights of a Gloucester transgender student were denied when the anatomically born female was denied access to the boys’ bathroom.
The Gloucester County School Board has appealed that decision.
Hanover school officials have been tight-lipped regarding the current controversy, but one school official indicated the system “would continue to follow the law.”