How To Protect Trans Kids and Oppose Youngkin’s 2022 Anti-Transgender Student Policy

What’s at stake for Virginia K-12 students?

On September 16th, Governor Glenn Youngkin and the Virginia Department of Education released a draft model policy that would remove and replace 2021’s model policies on the treatment of transgender (trans) and non-binary youth in schools. The 2021 guidance assists Virginia’s local education agencies in adopting a comprehensive set of policies that will protect transgender and nonbinary students from bullying, harassment, and discrimination in schools and create inclusive and affirming learning environments. Equality Virginia OPPOSES the 2022 proposed model policy.

Governor Youngkin’s draft model policy:

  • Is rooted in transphobia and seeks to further harm trans and nonbinary kids.
  • Seeks to erase trans and nonbinary youth from the classroom. They create a hostile & potentially dangerous school environment.
  • Requires teachers and school staff to forcibly “out” students to their parents against their will in some circumstances, such as where a student seeks counseling.
  • Prohibits teachers and school staff from supporting trans & nonbinary students, such as using a student’s affirming name & pronouns.
  • Creates bathroom and sports policies that prohibit access and/or participation in activities consistent with their gender identity.


Public Comment Guide

A public comment period for the proposed model policy opened Monday September 26th and will close Wednesday October 26th at 11:59 pm. We encourage you to submit a comment in opposition to the policy. Below are tips. Navigate to the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall Page and click “Enter Comment” to begin.

TIPS

If you feel overwhelmed or too busy to write something personal, you can simply say  “I OPPOSE the guidance.” Even that helps to show the VDOE the number of people who oppose the guidance.

Identify your relationship to the trans and nonbinary community. Are you transgender? A family member or friend of a transgender person? An educator? A concerned community member?

Tell a little about yourself.

Share why trans affirming school policy matters to you.

If you’re trans and have faced anti-trans discrimination while at school, share your story. Be specific as much as you are comfortable with on who or what caused the harm (i.e. student, classmate, teacher, etc).

Please mention how your experience overlaps with multiple marginalized identities.

If you’re trans and have had a good school experience that affirmed your gender identity, share your story. Please be specific as well.

Be clear that you OPPOSE the draft policy and want the VDOE to reject them.

If you prefer to submit a public comment anonymously for the safety of you and your loved ones, Equality Virginia has a collection form that will be collecting anonymous comments.

What happens once the VDOE model policies are finalized after the public comment period?
Once the VDOE releases the final draft of the model policies on October 27, 2022 school boards in Virginia will have to consider and vote to adopt or reject the 2022 VDOE model policies. Several school districts have said they will not


Additional Information

Tips

The most powerful form of public comment is personal testimony, which can be just a few sentences! We know it can be difficult to know what to say so we have provided some prompting questions for anyone who wants to support trans and non-binary youth:

Parents, caregivers, and adult family members:

  • What has been your child’s experience at their school around being LGBTQ+ or their friends who might be LGBTQ+? 
  • What would it mean to your family if schools removed protections and guidelines that help create safe and inclusive environments for all youth? 
  • How would it impact your young person or their friends at school and in their daily life?

LGBTQ youth, LGBTQ adults, allied youth and siblings:

  • What has been your experience at school around being LGBTQ+ or having LGBTQ+ peers?
  • What would it mean to you if Virginia schools didn’t have safe and inclusive environments for all youth?
  • How would it impact you or your peers at school and in their daily life?

Educators, Administrators, and School Personnel:

  • In what ways would you and your coworkers feel more prepared by having guidance on how to better serve all youth, particularly transgender and non-binary youth? 
  • Why is this personally impactful to you and your coworkers? 
  • How would the guidance set students up for success?

Adult allies:

  • What would it mean to you and your city/county if Virginia schools did not have safe and inclusive environments for LGBTQ+ youth? 
  • How might it impact your friends, loved ones, and other community members? 
  • Why is this important to you as an ally?

Research

  • Polling shows that 85% of transgender and nonbinary youth, and two-thirds of all LGBTQ youth, say that recent debates around anti-trans bills have negatively impacted their mental health.
  • The Trevor Project’s 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health found that 45% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half (53%) of transgender and nonbinary youth. Nearly 1 in 5 transgender and nonbinary youth attempted suicide. However, LGBTQ youth who had access to an LGBTQ-affirming school reported lower rates of attempting suicide than those who did not. Additionally, learning about LGBTQ people or issues was associated with significantly lower odds (23%) of a past-year suicide attempt in LGBTQ students. 
  • According to a poll conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of The Trevor Project, 85% of transgender and nonbinary youth — and two-thirds of all LGBTQ youth (66%) — say recent debates about state laws restricting the rights of transgender people have negatively impacted their mental health. When asked about proposed legislation that would require schools to tell a student’s parent or guardian if they request to use a different name/pronoun or if they identify as LGBTQ at school, 45% of LGBTQ youth said it made them feel angry, 34% felt nervous, and nearly 1 in 3 felt stressed.
  • Having at least one accepting adult can reduce the risk of a suicide attempt among LGBTQ young people by 40 percent.
  • A 2021 peer-reviewed study by The Trevor Project’s researchers found that transgender and nonbinary youth who reported gender identity acceptance from teachers and peers had significantly lower odds of attempting suicide in the past year.
  • A 2020 peer-reviewed study by The Trevor Project’s researchers, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, found that transgender and nonbinary youth who experienced bathroom discrimination had more than 1.5 times the odds of attempting suicide in the past year compared to those who did not experience bathroom discrimination. 
  • Transgender and nonbinary youth who reported having pronouns respected by all or most people in their lives attempted suicide at half the rate of those who did not have their pronouns respected.

2021 Model Policy (Trans Affirming)

What current protections do transgender and non-binary youth have in schools (under the 2021 VDOE policy)?

School districts’ model policies must cover the following areas that schools will address:

  • Compliance with applicable nondiscrimination laws;
  • Maintenance of a safe and supportive learning environment free from discrimination and harassment for all students;
  • Prevention of and response to bullying and harassment;
  • Maintenance of student records;
  • Identification of students;
  • Protection of student privacy and the confidentiality of sensitive information;
  • Enforcement of sex-based dress codes; and
  • Student participation in sex-specific school activities and events and use of school facilities. Activities and events do not include athletics.

In addition, the Virginia Values Act bans discrimination against LGBTQ people in places of public accommodation, which includes educational institutions like public schools. This means that schools must offer a safe and equal learning environment to all students, teachers, and staff, including those who are LGBTQ.

The 2021 policies allow trans and non-binary youth to be safer from bulllying, harassment, and discrimination at the hands of their peers, teachers, and school staff and administrators. It also guarantees that supports are in place to allow all youth, including trans and non-binary youth, to have access to an equal educational experience.

The 2021 legislation does not cover transgender and non-binary students’ participation in athletics. Instead, this is governed by the Virginia High School League (VHSL), which allows transgender youth to play on teams consistent with their gender identity through a waiver process requiring certain documentation and hearings. Many middle schools follow VHSL guidelines. 

Equality Virginia Launches School Board Policy Tracker

September 15, 2022
Contact: Narissa Rahaman
e. [email protected]
p.   407-492-5086

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                    

In total, 552,065 Virginia K-12 students attend school in divisions that have fully adopted the VDOE model policy for transgender students

RICHMOND, VA – Today Equality Virginia, the Commonwealth’s leading advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) equality, launched a school board policy & meeting tracker to provide parents, advocates and students information on local school board meetings, potential agenda items and opportunity for public comment, and whether the school district has adopted the Virginia Department of Education’s (VDOE)  Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools.

“Almost half of Virginia’s K-12 students attend schools in divisions that have fully adopted VDOE’s model policies for the treatment of transgender students,” said Narissa S. Rahaman, Executive Director of Equality Virginia. “These policies, developed in accordance with evidence-based best practices, give teachers and administrators critical tools to create safe, inclusive and learning environments for all students. School boards in every corner of our Commonwealth have a unique and urgent opportunity to protect transgender students by adopting the model policies.”

In 2021, the VDOE released model policies regarding the treatment of transgender and non-binary students in Virginia public schools. The model policies address common issues regarding transgender students in accordance with evidence-based best practices and include information, guidance, procedures, and standards relating to: compliance with applicable nondiscrimination laws; maintenance of a safe and supportive learning environment free from discrimination and harassment for all students; prevention of and response to bullying and harassment; maintenance of student records; identification of students; protection of student privacy and the confidentiality of sensitive information; enforcement of sex-based dress codes; and student participation in sex-specific school activities, events, and use of school facilities. All local school boards were required to adopt the policy as a baseline by the start of the 2021-2022 school year. 

In total, 552,065 Virginia K-12 students attend school in divisions that have fully adopted the VDOE policy and 699,905 students attend school in divisions that have not adopted sufficient policies. Out of Virginia’s 133 school districts, 13 school boards have fully adopted VDOE’s model policies, eight have partially adopted the model policies,  90 have opted to follow guidance put forward by the Virginia School Boards Association that contends existing policies fulfill the law’s requirements, nine school districts have rejected the VDOE policies, and four didn’t consider any policy, claiming their current policies are sufficient.

Equality Virginia’s tracker also provides dates, times and locations of monthly school board meetings, how parents, advocates and allies can sign-up for public comment, links to meeting agendas, and will highlight policies or resolutions school boards are introducing that could impact LGBTQ+ students. The tracker has additional details such as school board member contact information, superintendent’s name, and whether or not the school board is elected or appointed. 

“Over the last 18 months, thousands of students, parents, educators, and allied community members have been showing up to school board meetings and giving public comment in support of transgender and nonbinary students and of policies that would protect them,” said Kyleigh Hynes, Safe Schools Coordinator of Equality Virginia. “So much of this work has been organized by folks on the ground, and we want them to feel as empowered and prepared as possible as they continue to advocate at these meetings. The purpose of our tracker is to provide all of the information someone might need in order to show up to a school board meeting or contact their board member, thereby helping to eliminate barriers to participation in local advocacy work across the Commonwealth.”

According to GLSEN’s  2019 National School Climate Survey, Virginia schools were not safe for most LGBTQ+ secondary school students. In addition, many LGBTQ+ students in Virginia did not have access to important school resources and were not protected by supportive and inclusive school policies.  School-based supports such as supportive and inclusive school policies, school personnel who are supportive of LGBTQ+ students, GSAs, and LGBTQ+-inclusive curriculum resources can positively affect school climate for LGBTQ+ students. Findings from GLSEN’s 2019 National School Climate Survey demonstrate that students attending schools with these resources and supports report more positive school experiences, including lower victimization and absenteeism and higher academic achievement.

Equality Virginia is a 501(c)(3) organization working to build a fully inclusive Commonwealth by educating, empowering, and mobilizing Virginians to ensure all LGBTQ+ people are free to live, love, learn, and work.

###

Equality Virginia and Partners File Amicus Brief in Support of Transgender and Non-Binary Students in Virginia Schools

July 28, 2022
Contact: Narissa Rahaman, [email protected]

RICHMOND, VA – Last evening, Equality Virginia, the Commonwealth’s leading advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) equality, along with 35 partners and school board leaders across the Commonwealth, filed an amicus brief in support of transgender students in Virginia schools.

The brief asks the Supreme Court of Virginia to uphold the Circuit Court for the County of King William’s dismissal of Peter Vlaming’s lawsuit against the West Point School Board, which rejected Mr. Vlaming’s claims that his firing for violation of the West Point School Board’s anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies violated his rights under Virginia law. 

The West Point School Board has a compelling interest in protecting its transgender students from the harms associated with discriminatory treatment. It must also comply with Title IX, which prohibits discrimination against transgender children on the basis of their gender identities, and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. To serve these interests and comply with the law, the West Point School Board must treat its transgender students equally—including by ensuring that its staff addresses transgender students, like their cisgender peers, with the names and pronouns that reflect their gender identity. The illusory burden asserted by Mr. Vlaming cannot stand against this compelling interest. 

An amicus curiae brief, or “friend of the court” brief, is filed by organizations or persons not directly involved in a case to provide information related to issues to help courts reach decisions.

The groups point to the negative and harmful experiences of transgender and non-binary students and their families in Virginia schools as reasons why anti-discrimination policies and practices, such as using a student’s correct pronouns, can mitigate these harms.

“Transgender and non-binary students, when compared to their cisgender peers, face physical abuse, bullying, and extreme emotional harm at higher rates, which impact their well-being and education,” said Narissa S. Rahaman, Executive Director at Equality Virginia. “The West Point School Board’s antidiscrimination and anti-harassment policies aim to counteract and prevent those harms. We know that transgender students thrive when they are supported by an inclusive school environment, which includes using their correct pronouns.”

“The harm of differentiating transgender students from their peers and failing to affirm their identities is well-established in the courts,” said S. Douglas Bunch, Partner at civil rights law firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll. “Sadly, this effect is magnified when the hostile actor is a teacher. School policies, such as one of using pronouns that reflect a transgender student’s identity, are there to mitigate these harms and allow all students to thrive in school.”

According to GLSEN’s 2019 National School Climate Survey, Virginia schools were not safe for most LGBTQ+ secondary school students. In addition, many LGBTQ+ students in Virginia did not have access to important school resources, such as an LGBTQ+-inclusive curriculum, and were not protected by supportive and inclusive school policies. 

School-based supports such as supportive and inclusive school policies, school personnel who are supportive of LGBTQ+ students, GSAs, and LGBTQ+-inclusive curriculum resources can positively affect school climate for LGBTQ+ students. Findings from GLSEN’s 2019 National School Climate Survey demonstrate that students attending schools with these resources and supports report more positive school experiences, including lower victimization and absenteeism and higher academic achievement.

This is the second amicus brief of its kind that Equality Virginia and Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll have filed on behalf of the welfare of transgender and non-binary students in Virginia. On July 9, 2021 Equality Virginia and over 50 partners and school board leaders across the Commonwealth filed a brief in support of Virginia’s model policies to make schools safer and inclusive for transgender students.

Groups signing on to the amicus brief include:

Diversity Richmond 

Equality Loudoun

Farmville Pride

FCPS Pride 

GLSEN NoVA

GLSEN RVA

GLSEN Southwest Virginia

Hampton Roads Pride

He She Ze and We

Health Brigade

Hill City Pride

PFLAG Blue Ridge

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia

Pride Liberation Project

Rappahannock Region Transgender Support (RRTS)

Restoration Fellowship RVA

Richmond Triangle Players

Rockbridge LGBTQIA+ Alliance

Side by Side VA, Inc.

Southeastern Transgender Resource Center 

Stonewall Sports Richmond 

Transgender Assistance Program Virginia

UGRC/Black Pride RVA

Virginia Anti-Violence Project 

Virginia Council on LGBTQ+

Virginia Pride 

Honorable Barbara J. Kanninen (Arlington County)

Honorable David Priddy (Arlington County)

Honorable Lisa Larson-Torres (Chair, Charlottesville City)

Honorable Karl V. Frisch (Fairfax County)

Honorable Laura Downs (Chair, Falls Church City)

Honorable David Ortiz (Falls Church City)

Honorable Lori Silverman (Falls Church City)

Honorable Elizabeth Warner (Stafford County)

Mr. Jason Kamras (Richmond City) 

Equality Virginia is a 501(c)(3) organization working to build a fully inclusive Commonwealth by educating, empowering, and mobilizing Virginians to ensure all LGBTQ+ people are free to live, love, learn, and work.

###

Virginia LGBTQ+ Organizations Call Out Governor Youngkin’s Hypocrisy in Hosting a Pride Event

Gov. Youngkin’s performative event does not diminish the months he spent attacking the LGBTQ+ community on the campaign trail and subsequent anti-LGBTQ+ appointments after taking office

RICHMOND – Today, the Commonwealth’s leading advocacy organizations for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer equality, responded to Governor Glenn Youngkin’s announcement about hosting a Pride event after nearly a year of anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and administration appointments. 

“Equality Virginia is disappointed in Governor Youngkin’s performative attempt to celebrate Virginia’s diverse LGBTQ+ community by hosting a Pride event. His cherry-picking of invitees sends a message that he is unwilling to listen to the LGBTQ+ organizations and community members who have worked tirelessly for decades to make our Commonwealth inclusive and welcoming for all,” said Narissa Rahaman, Executive Director of Equality Virginia Advocates. “The Governor spent months campaigning on a platform of homophobia and transphobia, attacking some of the most marginalized members of our community– transgender and non-binary youth. His Pride event does not erase his words and only gaslights our community. We encourage the Governor to meet with us, hear our stories, learn about our lives, and make a commitment to fight for our lived equality.”

Gov. Youngkin’s opposition to LGBTQ+ equality during his gubernatorial campaign was constant and intentional. He declined to support same-sex marriage, despite support of the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision to legalize it nationally. He expressed support for “license to discriminate” laws. He does not support transgender kids competing in school sports on the teams consistent with their gender identity saying, “It’s just not fair.” On the first day of Pride month in 2021, Youngkin supported a teacher who was suspended for refusing to use the preferred pronouns of his student saying he was standing up for the “best interest” of students in his district.

Gov. Youngkin’s hostility continued after the election when he appointed individuals with a history of engaging in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric. Before taking office, Youngkin named Kay Coles James, former president of the far-right Heritage Foundation, as the Secretary of the Commonwealth. While at Heritage, James opposed the Equality Act, federal legislation that would prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in areas including public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit, and the jury system. James tweeted the Equality Act is “anything but equality,” saying it would shut down businesses and “open every female bathroom and sports team to biological males.” Former Fairfax County School Board member Elizabeth Schultz, known for her tirade against protections for transgender students, was appointed as Virginia’s Assistant Superintendent of Public Instruction.

“I appreciate the Governor’s invitation, but I think it is premature for this administration to celebrate LGBTQ+ equality when it has yet to take any meaningful steps to advance it,” said James Millner, Director of Virginia Pride. “I have serious concerns about the Governor’s on-the-record positions on issues like same-sex marriage and rights and protections for the transgender community, especially transgender youth.  If the Governor can demonstrate that he and his administration are true allies to our community by working with us to protect and advance our hard-won progress, I would happily attend a celebration with him next year.”

“LGBTQ+ Pride month is not a celebration, it’s an action. In this moment, LGBTQ+ communities don’t want to merely attend events, they want to be heard. Members of the current administration have demonstrated in their words and in their actions that they do not support the rights and dignity of the queer community,” said Lindsay Church, Executive Director of Minority Veterans of America. “Instead of hosting events and public professions of support for our communities, this administration must meet with LGBTQ+ leaders and advisory boards to hear our concerns and take clear and substantive actions to address them. Until this happens, these events will be mere tokenization of members of our community in the name of political cover.”

He She Ze and We supports families with transgender and nonbinary youth of all ages. Before accepting an invitation to a Pride Celebration, we ask for an opportunity to meet with the Governor and his staff to discuss the urgent needs of our community,” said Shannon McKay, Executive Director of He She Ze and We. “Perhaps after meeting with some of our families and school-age children, they would understand why it is essential to protect them with inclusive policies, and why we celebrate their courage to be themselves every single day!”

Instances of Governor Youngkin’s Hostility Towards the LGBTQ+ Community

On First Day Of Pride Month in 2021, Youngkin Supported A Teacher Who Was Suspended For Refusing To Use The Preferred Pronouns Of His Student. [American Independent, 6/1/21]

Youngkin Supported Judge’s Decision To Reinstate Teacher Who Was Suspended For Refusing To Use Student’s Preferred Pronouns. [@GlennYoungkin, 6/8/21]

Youngkin Declined To Support Marriage Equality. [Associated Press, 10/22/22]

Youngkin Expressed Support For “License To Discriminate” Laws. [@GlennYoungkin Twitter, 04/26/21]

Youngkin Opposed Transgender-Inclusive Sports Competitions. [Washington Examiner, 3/26/21; Washington Blade, 5/26/21]

EV Advocates (EVA) is a 501(c)(4) organization that works with Equality Virginia (EV) to advance equal rights for LGBTQ Virginians through public policy and advocacy.

Minority Veterans of America (MVA) is a nonpartisan, 501(c)3 nonprofit organization designed to create belonging and advance equity for underrepresented veterans.

He She Ze and We is a 501(c)3 non-profit that empowers families on the journey of gender identity through support, education, advocacy.

Virginia Pride seeks to unite the segmented LGBT communities throughout the Commonwealth.  We strive to be a representative body of the LGBT Community in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  We also seek to standardize Pride for the Commonwealth of Virginia by holding a state-wide Annual PrideFest Celebration.

###

Click to Share on Facebook

LGBTQ Legal Protections from 2020

In 2020, Virginia saw historic and life-changing legislation for the LGBTQ community pass out of the General Assembly! Among these achievements, Virginia is now the first state in the South to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in their daily lives. This is possible thanks to three decades of work by countless advocates like you, as well as  by Equality Virginia, local and national community partners, and pro-equality legislators. We move forward with a changed legal landscape where LGBTQ Virginians can proudly live, love, learn, and work in a more inclusive Commonwealth.

Make sure to read up on these new laws that protect LGBTQ Virginians in countless areas of daily life, which went into effect on July 1, 2020.

The Virginia Values Act – LGBTQ Protections in Daily Life

The Virginia Values Act, sponsored by Senator Adam Ebbin and Delegate Mark Sickles, protects against discrimination in employment, housing, public spaces, and credit for LGBTQ people, women, people of color, veterans, unmarried and divorced people, seniors, and people of faith. This historic legal victory makes Virginia the first state in the South and the 21st state in the country to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination!

Thank you to Delegate Delores McQuinn, Senator Jennifer Boysko, and Senator Jennifer McClellan who all patroned individual nondiscrimination bills, and became chief co-patrons of the Virginia Values Act. Thank you also to the countless advocates, faith leaders, business supporters, and partner organizations in the Virginia Values Coalition who worked tirelessly to ensure LGBTQ Virginians are protected from discrimination in every area of their daily lives. You can learn more about the law and how it protects you and your community by reading our Frequently Asked Questions Guide.

Outlawed Discrimination

Non-Discrimination Protections in Virginia’s Code

Delegate Mark Levine’s House Bill (HB) 1049 adds non-discrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity into 70 different places in Virginia’s code, covering many areas of law such as public contracts, auto insurance, apprenticeship programs, and so much more. These LGBTQ protections were added to existing non-discrimination laws, so Virginians can follow the normal complaint or reporting process for the covered areas.

Created Safe Schools for LGBTQ Youth

Transgender Student Protections

Senator Jennifer Boysko’s Senate Bill (SB) 161 and Delegate Marcus Simon’s HB 145 are companion bills that require public schools to provide an equal learning environment to transgender and non-binary students. The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) is required to craft model policies for local school boards by December 31, 2020. Each school board is then required by law to adopt policies consistent with, or more comprehensive than, the VDOE’s model policies by the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year. You can learn more about advocating for trans and non-binary students by reading our Frequently Asked Questions Guide.

Protected LGBTQ Youth

Conversion Therapy Ban for Minors

Senator Scott Surovell’s SB 245 and Delegate Patrick Hope’s HB 386 ban the practice of conversion therapy on minors by licensed professionals. Anyone who is licensed by the Virginia Department of Health Professions that practices conversion therapy can face disciplinary action. The law also bans the use of state funds for conducting conversion therapy. You can learn more about the law and how it protects LGBTQ youth by reading our Frequently Asked Questions Guide.

Improved Quality of Life for Transgender Virginians

Non-Binary Gender Marker & Modernized Update Process on State IDs and Licenses

Senator Scott Surovell’s SB 246 allows Virginians to select a non-binary gender marker option on DMV licenses and IDs. It also eliminates the requirement to have any special forms or letters from a healthcare provider in order to update one’s gender marker. This means Virginians will now be able to select for themselves ‘male,’ ‘female,’ or ‘non-binary’ on their state license or ID.  

This change will allow transgender and non-binary Virginians to easily update their state ID with an accurate gender marker so they can live more safely and authentically. You can learn more about the law and how to update the gender marker on your DMV license or ID by reading our Frequently Asked Questions Guide.

Modernized Birth Certificate Update Process

Senator Jennifer Boysko’s SB 657 and Delegate Marcus Simon’s HB 1041 modernize the process of obtaining a birth certificate that matches one’s identity. The legislation eliminates the requirement for a court order or proof of medical procedure in order to update one’s gender marker on a Virginia birth certificate. It will also allow for a new birth certificate to be issued, rather than merely an amended one that shows old information.

Virginians still need to have a form completed by a health care provider who states they have undergone clinically appropriate treatment for gender transition. You can learn more about the law and how to update the gender marker on your Virginia birth certificate by reading our Frequently Asked Questions Guide.

Health Insurance Protections for Trans Virginians

Delegate Danica Roem’s HB 1429 protects transgender and non-binary people from discrimination in state-regulated health insurance plans, which is about one in four health plans in Virginia. This means that the health insurance plan must cover any medically necessary treatment for a transgender person that it already covers for a cisgender person. Additionally, health insurance companies cannot deny you care simply because the treatment you need is not generally associated with your gender identity, the sex you were assigned at birth, or the gender marker listed with your health care provider or insurance company. You can learn more about the law and how it protects trans and non-binary Virginians’ access to healthcare by reading our Frequently Asked Questions Guide.

Voting without a Photo ID

Delegate Joseph Lindsey’s HB 19 will allow voters to cast a ballot without showing an ID containing a photo. This important update will increase access to the polls for those who have had difficulty accessing a photo ID. This legislation is also particularly important to transgender voters, who have sometimes had difficulty casting a ballot due to their appearance not matching the photo on their ID. Instead voters can prove their identity with one of the following:

  • Voter confirmation documents
  • Valid Virginia driver’s license, valid United States passport, or any other identification issued by the Commonwealth, one of its political subdivisions, or the United States
  • Any valid student identification card issued by any institution of higher education located in the Commonwealth or any private school located in the Commonwealth
  • Any valid student identification card issued by any institution of higher education located in any other state or territory of the United States
  • Any valid employee identification card containing a photograph of the voter and issued by an employer of the voter in the ordinary course of the employer’s business
  • A copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document containing the name and address of the voter

Click here to find out more information about voting.

Built Safer Communities

Hate Crimes Protections

Delegate Richard Sullivan’s HB 276 and Delegate Kenneth Plum’s HB 618 update Virginia’s hate crimes law to protect LGBTQ people and track data on hate crimes. Under this update, women and disabled people are also protected. The bill also eliminates the mandatory minimum terms of confinement for hate crimes. You can learn more about the law and how it protects you and your community by reading our Frequently Asked Questions Guide.

Local Non-Discrimination Laws Allowed

Delegate Danica Roem’s HB 696 allows cities and counties to pass their own non-discrimination ordinances. This was previously not possible since, under Virginia law, only powers expressly given to localities by the General Assembly can be exercised by cities and counties.

Updated Virginia’s Laws to Reflect Marriage Equality

Same-Sex Marriage Ban Removed

Senator Adam Ebbin’s SB 17 and Delegate Nancy Guy’s HB 1490 repealed the ban on same-sex marriages and unions in Virginia’s legal code. This legislative update sends a powerful message that the Commonwealth values all families, including LGBTQ couples and families. Virginia still has an unenforceable amendment in its state constitution prohibiting same-sex marriages and unions, which was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.