Vermont’s Champlain Valley School District, the largest in the state, has adopted a new policy that is certain to raise eyebrows among parental rights groups.
The policy centers around transgender and nonbinary students, requiring schools within the district to allow these students to access facilities, participate in sports, and be addressed by their chosen names and pronouns without the mandatory disclosure to parents.
Although the district asserts that its policies are built upon the 2017 guidelines of the state Agency of Education, they have made notable deviations that are stricter in nature.
For instance, while the state education agency advises that transgender students “should be” allowed to use restrooms that align with their gender identity, Champlain Valley’s mandate dictates students “must be permitted” to do so.
Angela Arsenault, the school board chair, acknowledged the potential legal ramifications of the policy. Organizations advocating for traditional values, such as the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), have previously taken legal actions opposing similar policies in other regions.
Nevertheless, Arsenault expressed confidence in the district’s legal preparations, anticipating the policy will withstand legal scrutiny.
Proponents of the policy, like Dana Kaplan from Outright Vermont, argue that this move provides clarity and inclusiveness in a contentious climate. Meanwhile, critics question the wisdom of withholding potentially crucial information from parents and are concerned about potential issues related to student privacy and safety in facilities.
The Vermont chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics championed the policy, stating that students who feel secure in their identities are more likely to succeed academically.
However, with the CDC’s 2021 Youth Risk Behavior Survey indicating that only around 4% of Vermont’s high school students identify as transgender, some are questioning if the policy’s implications will affect a broader student body beyond this demographic.