A school board in Virginia has passed an anti-trans bathroom and locker room policy critics are calling “invasive and unnecessary” and “the most horrific bathroom policy ever.”
The Hanover County School Board voted 5-2 to adopt the policy during a special session Tuesday night, which will make “trans and non-binary students jump through hoops simply to exist in schools,” according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia.
Under the new policy, trans students and their parents or legal guardians will be required to “submit a written request to the principal of the school where the student attends” so they can use the restrooms and locker rooms that align with the student’s gender identity.
School administrators could then request “relevant information,” which may include a statement from the student that “specifies their gender identity and how they have consistently, persistently and insistently expressed that identity;” statements from the student’s parents; documents “from other interested parties;” and even “student disciplinary or criminal records.”
After all the required information is collected, the school’s principal will provide a written summary of the request and submit it to the board. Only after that — “and no later than at its next regularly-scheduled monthly business meeting,” the board will consider the request.
School board members might still “request additional information if necessary” before making their final decision — whether to allow a trans student to use the bathroom according to the student’s gender identity — and inform the student’s parents or legal guardian.
“Tonight the Hanover County School Board voted to adopt an invasive and unnecessary policy regarding restroom and locker room access for transgender and non-binary students,” Equality Virginia said in a statement shared with the press Tuesday night.
“Transgender and non-binary students in Hanover County have always been here, they belong, and they deserve so much more from their school board. HCSB adopted this policy despite overwhelming opposition from residents,” which includes more than 35 public comments, dozens of emails and calls, more than 70 postcards sent to the board, and over 50 protesters attending a rally ahead of the meeting, the group said.
The policy “will do nothing more than further stigmatize transgender and nonbinary students who are already at risk for bullying and discrimination,” said the group’s executive director Narissa S. Rahaman.
Hanover School Board Chairman John F. Axselle III told local television station WRIC-TV that the policy was the result of an effort between the board, its attorney and counsel from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).
ADF is an anti-LGBTQ legal advocacy organization that has been designated as an extremist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
According to the LGBTQ news outlet Washington Blade, the school board in March voted 4-3 to allow the ADF to offer a free legal review of the school district’s policy regarding equal educational opportunities.