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Surry School Board approves LGBT policy

Surry County’s School Board voted unanimously on Sept. 14 to enact policy changes pertaining to LGBT students.

Per state law, school boards have through the end of this month to adopt transgender protections “consistent with” or “more comprehensive than” a series of Virginia Department of Education model policies pertaining to the use of bathrooms and locker rooms, student privacy, bullying and harassment, dress codes and sex-specific school activities, with the exception of athletics, which are governed by the Virginia High School League.

One such VDOE-recommended policy would require school staff to use a transgender student’s preferred name and pronouns. Another aims to restrict whom staff can tell when a student comes out as transgender at school, the goal being to prevent staff from “outing” a student whose parents may be unaware and unsupportive of their child’s transition.

The changes include adding the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the list of protected classes in the school system’s existing nondiscrimination policy, listed in the policy manual as Policy JB, and adding a legal reference to the state’s transgender law, Virginia Code 22.1-23.3, as an addendum to the policy.

Superintendent Dr. Serbrenia Sims said a separate regulation to follow will go into specifics regarding bathrooms and the other requirements spelled out in the law, and will be modeled after the VDOE-recommended policies.