A Virginia school board has voted in favor of expanding the rights of their transgender students by allowing students to choose which bathroom they use while on school property. It took months of debate, but the Loudoun County School Board finally voted 7 to 2 in favor of giving transgender students more autonomy and rights while studying at schools in the district – now students within the Loudoun County School District will be able to use the locker room and bathroom that corresponds to their chosen gender identity.

The ruling will go into effect immediately and has attracted a lot of attention from members of the public. Policy 8040, which is what the rule is referred to, faced a lot of protests from critics as well as support from those in favor of expanding the rights of transgender youth in Virginia.

On the day the vote was cast, the community debated the policy for four hours. The policy had also been an agenda item at previous school board meetings, so the community was very familiar with the intention to expand the rights of transgender students in Loudoun County.

“The best interest of every child is what guides my every vote,” said Atoosa Reaser, Vice-Chair of Loudoun School Board. “Tonight, the school board adopted a policy to protect our transgender students because feeling safe and welcome is a first step to learning.”

Transgender students attending schools in Loudoun county will now experience more freedom. Athletes who are transgender will now be allowed to compete on teams that match their gender identity. These students will also be permitted to use the locker room that corresponds to their gender identity.

In addition, educators and school staff will be expected to address students by their chosen pronouns. That means that transgender girls will be referred to as she and her while transgender boys will be referred to as he and him. School mental health professionals will also be expected to undergo training to help prepare them to deal with issues relating to LGBTQ students. These issues include bullying, discrimination, and harassment from others.

The Loudoun community responded to the policy with mixed reactions. Many people applauded the school district’s effort to expand rights to transgender students. Others thought it was not right.

“We all had a sense of a wide margin of support, but this was a big relief,” former LCPS student Nicholas Gothard told the Loudon Times-Mirror. “On an issue that was divisive, our school board showed it fights for our kids.”

Senator Jennifer Boysko (D-33rd) represents a portion of Loudoun and Fairfax Counties. She said: “We have a number of students in the school system who are very, very vulnerable, and to have the ability to be called the name that they asked to be called, and to be able to use the bathroom that identifies with their gender the courts have spoken.”

Another community member, Jeff Morse, did not vote in favor of the policy, saying: “Tonight’s a difficult night for our community.”

What do you think about this new policy relating to transgender students?