Update on the Status of the 2022 VDOE Proposed Model Policies

In September 2022, Governor Youngkin’s Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) proposed withdrawing the 2021 model policies for the treatment of transgender students in Virginia's public schools and replacing them with new model policies. The 2022 proposed model policies seek to erase transgender and nonbinary youth from schools, creating a hostile and potentially dangerous environment.

The 2022 proposed model policies are a significant departure from the current 2021 model policies. The 2021 model policies were created under the Governor Northam VDOE after the General Assembly passed a law in 2020 directing VDOE to develop evidence-based best practice model policies on the treatment of transgender and nonbinary students. The 2021 model policies are trans-affirming and were created in collaboration with various stakeholders, including parents, teachers and transgender students. All Virginia public schools were required to adopt policies consistent with or more comprehensive than the 2021 model policies by the 2021-2022 school year, but not all school districts did. And now, the current VDOE has proposed to replace the 2021 model policies with new policies that ignore both the law and evidence-based best practices. Instead, the proposed model policies seek to impose harmful, anti-trans practices on Virginia’s young people.

While alarming, the 2022 proposed model policies are not yet in effect! The policies were required to go through a 30-day public comment period before they may be finalized by VDOE. The comment period closed on October 26, 2022 and a record-breaking 71,000 public comments were submitted.  


The original finalization date for the proposed model policies was October 27, 2022. However, because some public comments asserted that the 2022 proposed model policies violate the law, Virginia's administrative process required a 30-day extension to the review period, moving the finalization date to November 26th. As of today, VDOE still has not issued a response to comments nor finalized the 2022 proposed model policies. 

Even if VDOE finalizes the 2022 proposed model policies, individual school boards will still have to vote to adopt the policies for them to be implemented at the local level. 

If you support transgender and nonbinary youth, one step you can take right now is to sign up for the ACLU-VA newsletter and take the Pride Pledge to receive updates on the model policies and action opportunities. We need your help to make it clear that an overwhelming number of Virginians oppose these transphobic policies. 

What the policies do

The proposed policies seek to erase transgender and non-binary youth from the classrooms, creating a hostile and potentially dangerous school environment. 

trans rights colored background of azure blue, white, and pink, with a screenshot of Youngkin admin's anti-trans model policies that read: "Virginia Department of Education. 2022 Model Policies on the privacy, dignity, and respect for all students."

The 2022 proposed model policies will cause actual harm to transgender and nonbinary students by creating an unsafe education environment. They would: 

  • Prohibit school districts from protecting students against forced "outing" to their parents before they are ready and when it may not be safe;
  • Prevent access to restrooms consistent with a student’s gender identity, in direct violation of federal law (Grimm v. Gloucester);
  • Erect additional barriers to trans and nonbinary students accessing counseling services;
  • Prohibit teachers and school staff from calling students by their affirming names and pronouns unless there is written permission from a parent; and
  • Allow teachers and staff to disregard parent's written instruction and misname and misgender students in the classroom based on their own personal beliefs, permitting public employees to use government speech to discriminate against trans and nonbinary students; and
  • Create facilities and sports policies that prohibit students from accessing and/or participating in activities consistent with their gender identity.

The stakes are high. Should the 2022 proposed model policies be finalized and school boards adopt them,  transgender and nonbinary students could face increased bullying, harassment, and discrimination in schools and place their safety at risk in unsupportive home environments.

What to do while we wait for VDOE’s next step

Below are a few things you can do to support trans and nonbinary youth now.

water-colored background of blue, white, pink with a dialogue box with the following text "trans and nonbinary youth have the support of this parent."

Regularly attend local school board meetings.

  • You can start to organize and familiarize yourself with your school board by attending school board meetings.
  • You can find out when your school board next meets and how to sign up for public comment via  Equality Virginia’s School Board Policy Tracker.
  • You can vote for school board members that believe in providing safe, affirming school environments for all students.

Connect with trans and LGBTQ+ students.