Yesterday, the Northern Virginia city of Manassas Park’s School Board unanimously adopted an addition to its nondiscrimination policy to include sexual orientation and gender identification. Norfolk and Virginia Beach have adopted similar policies.
State Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas), represents House District 13 in the Virginia House of Delegates that includes Manassas Park, She tweeted the following reaction to the policy change.
I’m so proud of the @MPCSVA School Board for unanimously voting to include gender identity, gender expression & sexual orientation to its non-discrimination policy so every student and faculty member knows they’re welcomed & now protected because of who they are, not despite it.
— Danica Roem (@pwcdanica) February 27, 2018
In Hampton Roads, nondiscrimination policies range from progressive to non-existent to discriminatory. School boards in Norfolk and Virginia Beach have adopted similar nondiscrimination policies that protect students and staff. In Portsmouth and Isle of Wight County, students are protected by a nondiscrimination policy. In Chesapeake and Suffolk, no policy currently exists protecting students or staff. In a well-known position, Gloucester schools prohibit students from using restrooms that conform to their gender identity.
According to Equality Virginia, more than 25% of Virginia’s public school students and employees are protected based on their sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. Following Attorney General Mark Herring’s 2015 opinion on school boards’ authority, localities are able to enact nondiscrimination policies that include sexual orientation and gender identity. This allows school boards to have the authority to protect students and employees through policy updates.