HANOVER COUNTY, Va. — An unruly audience forced the Hanover School Board to threaten to clear the room during their meeting on Tuesday night.
The commotion came following controversy over a proposed policy for transgender or non-binary students when it comes to using the bathroom.
The proposed policy would have transgender and non-binary students apply to the school board to be granted permission to use a different bathroom or locker room. For bathrooms, this application would include a required request along with other optional documents.
The school board may ask for a student statement, a parent statement, a signed document from a doctor or counselor, disciplinary and criminal records, and information related to the privacy of other students.
This proposed policy comes following a lawsuit and the district not having a specific policy to protect transgender students despite a Virginia law that went into effect last summer requiring school districts to adopt state policies.
Those policies state schools can’t use methods that could out students to parents or question the way they identify.
The board chairman had to repeatedly lay down the law that there would be no comments from audience members while the 47 people registered to speak were at the podium.
The proposed policy has prompted a great divide within the school district, causing one mom to speak through tears as she gave the school board a handout that her six-year-old wrote about the policy.
“It says please let me use the bathroom. This is their simple request and I can’t bare as a parent to make them justify their existence to you,” she said.
Others who were against the proposed policy said it was unfair, saying it punished students by making them jump through hoops, it criminalizes them and it outs the,
One mother told the board that they are making the dangerous assumption that the students are coming from supportive families.
On the other end of the spectrum, those who support the proposed policy commended the board for creating a policy they believe protects all kids.
“I think what you’re asking for is fair. What child under the age of 18 thinks they can make such a life-altering decision,” one community member said.
They also argued that different groups of people who need special accommodations, including those with a physical disability, also have to go through an application process.
The school board has still not weighed in on where they stand and will vote on whether they will adopt the policy on August 30.