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Hanover School Board meeting gets heated amid conversations on transgender policy

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Posted at 11:40 PM, Oct 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-13 16:52:10-04

HANOVER COUNTY, Va. -- In 2020, lawmakers told educators they had to adopt non-discrimination policies concerning transgender youth in Virginia public schools.

The State Department of Education then told local school boards to make their own rules.

On Tuesday night, discussions regarding school policies grew heated in Hanover County. Those speaking at the meeting did not hold back from sharing their opinions.

"The gentleman that just stood up, I want him to get a warning for disturbing this meeting. I don't care if you agree or disagree with this woman," one board member said.

"We're tired of the disruption and you just made a personal insult to the woman walking out of the room. I don't know if you're from Hanover County or not but the Hanover County I was born and raised in shows everyone respect and I expect it from the people in this audience," another attendee said.

Tuesday night's discussion centered around the school district's non-discrimination policy with guidance concerning transgender students. The new policy covers bathroom use and certain classes that may be gender-specific.

Several people spoke out on Tuesday against the policy.

"Who is to say a transgender student will not sneak a picture underneath the stall on their cellphone of a female or male using the bathroom and passing it along?" one attendee said.

"The policy will jeopardize bodily privacy and the safety of students in locker rooms," another said.

A 2018 study found there was evidence that showed inclusive transgender policies did not make bathrooms less safe.

Some also spoke in support of the policy.

One woman came to the meeting to read a letter from the parent of a transgender student.

"She was constantly harassed, teased and even blocked from leaving the bathroom so the teasing could continue. We're now in third grade and she's not permitted to use the girl's bathroom due to Hanover School Board discriminations on transgender students. We need you to adopt the full spirit of the VDOE policy regardless of what happens in November. Our kids' lives depend on it," the parent said.

Just a few months ago in Gloucester County, the school board was forced to pay Gavin Grimm $1.3 million after he sued the district, claiming their policy prohibiting him from using the boys' bathroom violated federal law.

A court agreed that his constitutional rights were violated. Gloucester County appealed to the Supreme Court which declined to hear the case.

Nothing has passed yet in Hanover County as Tuesday night was the first reading of the policy.