Virginia Beach School Board Faces Lawsuit After Rejecting State Transgender Guidelines

Faith Perkins | October 3, 2023

(The Lion) — Two parents are suing their Virginia school district for refusing to follow state policy regarding transgender students’ bathroom use and sports participation.

The guidance, which was promoted by Gov. Glenn Youngkin and finalized in July, mandates students to use bathrooms, locker rooms and participate in school activities that align with their biological sex. 

It also required written instructions from parents for students to be called by a name or pronoun other than the one listed on a student’s official records. Parents are to be notified if their student wishes to change their gender or pronouns. 

However, the Virginia Beach School Board refused to adopt the policies in their district, prompting a parent-led lawsuit.  

“School boards have no discretion to reject the Model Policies or otherwise maintain inconsistent policies, yet the Virginia Beach School Board has unlawfully voted against adopting the Model Policies,” lead attorney Chuck Cooper said, according to The Washington Post. “Our clients, the parents of two Virginia Beach students, have courageously decided to stand up for the rights of their children and parents in the Commonwealth.” 

During the school board meeting on Aug. 22, board member Vicki Manning motioned to adopt the state’s policies, but the motion failed after a split 5-5 vote, local media reported. 

“A majority of the VA Beach School Board failed to support my resolution which would have put us in compliance with the law,” Manning said. “I’m glad there are parents willing to take a stand and protect children and hold the board accountable.” 

Following the suit’s filing, the board held a special meeting on Tuesday to again vote on a revised transgender policy. The board claimed the watered-down version still complied with Youngkin’s guidance. 

But Manning disagreed, stating the presented policy was not consistent with the state’s policies. Parents and community members implored the board to adopt the original version.  

“I encourage you to adopt the full policies from Youngkin, not this watered-down version,” one commenter told the board. “Administrators, teachers and public officials do not have the authority to override parents who ultimately have the best interest of their children.” 

The school board ended up delaying the vote on the policies until Oct. 10.  

Youngkin applauded the parents for fighting against the school board’s reluctant position.  

“I’m proud of them for standing up for their children and for kids. I support them. And as you know, I firmly believe that there is no other decision for school boards than to adopt the model policies or policies consistent with the model policies,” he said. 

Attorney General Jason Miyares also reminded the board of their legal obligation to adopt the state policies. 

“Attorney General Miyares came out with a very very clear opinion that this is the law, and this is what school boards need to do,” Youngkin added.