A Virginia school district voted Thursday to defy Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin's model policies that restrict gender ideology and prohibit biologically male students from using girls' restrooms and locker rooms.
WSET-TV reported Friday that Amherst County Public Schools voted 6-1 not to adopt the Model Policies on Ensuring Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for All Students and Parents in Virginia's Public Schools, which was released by Youngkin in July.
Youngkin's policies aim to protect parental rights, restrict gender ideology in the classroom, and require students to use restroom facilities that align with their biological sex. The directive would also require schools to inform parents about their child's health, social, and psychological well-being. Additionally, school staff must refer to students by their biological sex unless otherwise directed by that child's parents.
On Thursday, ACPS voted to keep its own policies instead of implementing the governor's. The district's policies, which were established in August 2022, state, "The Amherst County School Board is committed to nondiscrimination with regard to membership in any category protected under federal or Virginia law. This commitment prevails in all of its policies and practices concerning staff, students, educational programs and services, and individuals and entities with whom the Board does business."
Before the vote, the school board heard arguments from five community members for and against Youngkin's policies.
Ohna McClellon, an Amherst County resident, told the school board, "By embracing these policies in whole or in part, Amherst schools will be acknowledging the existence of transgender students and their needs and the people who are important to them."
Resident Dawn Pool argued, "It strengthens our ability to have respect for all students while giving parents the rights to make decisions with respect to their children."
Amherst County resident David Childress also expressed support for Youngkin's policies and warned that rejecting them could lead to ramifications.
"I would just like to remind the board that there are other potential issues if we don't adopt the policy," Childress stated. "We could lose support from Governor Youngkin of the school division, the attorney general's support."
Following public comments, Amherst County Superintendent Dr. William Wells said, "After speaking with our legal counsel, it is in the best interest of the county to keep the current policy our school has."
The only dissenting vote in favor of adopting Youngkin's policies, District 2 Board Member Dawn Justice, explained that the governor's measures would better protect parental rights.
"Back when Governor Northam introduced his transgender policy, I voted that we keep our current policy because of parents' rights," Justice said. "We don't keep secrets from our parents, and Governor Youngkin's policy, I think, speaks to that and is very solid."
Virginia's largest school district, Fairfax County Public Schools, announced in August that it would not comply with the governor's policies. Similarly, in July, Arlington Public Schools stated that it had no plans to follow Youngkin's model policies.
Last month, Youngkin told Fox News Digital that, for the state's public schools, his model policies are "the law, and they don't have a choice."
"The law is very clear that I issue model policies, and local school districts have to adopt policies consistent with the model policies," he stated.
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