The Loudoun County School Board on Wednesday evening voted 7-2 to approve Policy 8040, which addresses the treatment and common issues pertaining to transgender students in elementary and secondary schools.
Board members Jeff Morse and John Beatty voted against the policy.
Loudoun’s Policy 8040 allows students to use their chosen name and gender pronouns that reflect their consistently asserted gender identity without any substantiating evidence, regardless of the name and gender recorded in the student’s permanent educational record.
The policy also allows for access to a number of student activities and facilities such as restrooms and locker rooms. Further, the policy states that all school mental health professionals shall complete training on topics relating to LGBTQ+ students, including procedures for preventing and responding to bullying, harassment and discrimination based on gender identity and expression.
The board passed two amendments during the hour-long discussion. The first, introduced by Board Chairwoman Brenda Sheridan, will require inclusivity training for all LCPS staff members. The second, introduced by Board member Ian Serotkin, will require that school restrooms be modified to ensure privacy, modesty and safety for all students.
Prior to the final vote, Board members Morse and Beatty recommended moving the discussion back to committee.
Morse said he did not believe LCPS was required to pass the policy before the start of the school year.
He also argued that the policy singles out and creates a new policy for one segment of constituents, which will be setting up the school system for other groups to ask for their own policies.
“We are not required to adopt this policy," Morse said. "Many people across the state have rejected it. I won't support it for the way it is written today.”
“If you are a LCPS student you are protected from bullying, harassment and abuse," he said. "That is in code and we support that. We don't have policies for every marginalized group. With [the] resiliency and counseling and protections we have today all of our students are on the path to success."
Serotkin, however, said enacting Policy 8040 is consistent with Virginia Department of Education law.
“And while sending it back to committee might result in some minor changes, I have a hard time believing it would result in a different policy from what we have today,” Serotkin said.
“We have seen court decisions across the country affirming transgender rights. Equal protection under the law means exactly that. We are by no means the first school district to enact policies like this," he said.
After the vote, Nicholas Gothard, a former LCPS student who has been advocating for transgender rights, said he felt extremely relieved.
“We all had a sense of a wide margin of support but this was a big relief," Gothard said. "On an issue that was divisive our school board showed it fights for our kids."
Following the vote Cris Candice Tuck, president of Equality Loudoun, echoed the sentiment.
"We have waited years for these protections," he said. "They really deserve this tonight."
Policy 8040 arose in response to Virginia House Bill 145 and Senate Bill 161 which were enacted by the 2020 Virginia General Assembly. The law requires school boards to adopt policies consistent with the Virginia Department of Education's Model Policies with the Treatment of Transgender Students in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools no later than the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year.
Sen. Jennifer Boysko (D-33rd), who represents parts of Loudoun and Fairfax Counties, carried SB 161 last year and addressed the School Board in June.
“We have a number of students in the school system who are very, very vulnerable, and to have the ability to be called the name that they asked to be called, and to be able to use the bathroom that identifies with their gender the courts have spoken,” Boysko said to the Times-Mirror on Monday.
"This is the right thing to do,” she said. "And I believe that this has been used as a political tool because it's an election year to get people all upset. And the bottom line is this will bring safety to students who are very vulnerable. And when they feel safe, they learn better, and all students will be in a better position.”