Letter — Superintendent should comply with guidelines

Published 6:22 pm Thursday, July 29, 2021

To the Editor:

Anger. Frustration. Shock. Utter disbelief. These are the emotions I felt when I read Dr. Barbara Johnson’s rationale for Prince Edward County Schools’ lack of compliance with nondiscrimination policies for transgender students.

Her argument for discriminating against transgender students by forcing them to use a private restroom rather than the restroom that matches their gender identity is: “people have to be comfortable whether you are transgender nor not, or part of the LGBTQ+ community or not, everybody has to be comfortable…”

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Where in VA Code 22.1-23.3, or any law for that matter, does it say that “everyone must be comfortable” with the policy for it to be enforced? In fact the very reason that the policy needed to be created is that “societal prejudice and lack of awareness or understanding” of transgender students contributes to “rejection, criticism, or bullying that affect their emotional health and academic achievement” (Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools, p. 9).

What is most disturbing is that the superintendent of Prince Edward County Schools, the very public school system that was closed for five years because many white residents “weren’t comfortable” with court-ordered desegregation, is the person who is now reluctant to comply with a state policy.

It was not that long ago that right here in Farmville lunch counters, busses, schools, water fountains, and indeed restrooms were racially segregated. Now our public school leadership is unwilling to provide integrated school facilities for transgender students for the same reason — some people aren’t “comfortable” with it.

I urge the superintendent and School Board to comply with the nondiscrimination policy and develop policies that allow transgender students access to “safe, supportive, and inclusive school environments.” (Model Policies, p. 9). They should do so with all deliberate speed.

Lee Millar Bidwell