VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Members of the Virginia Beach School Board voted Tuesday night to pass a motion approving policies for transgender students for the new school year.
The motion passed 7-3. There was one non-vote since one school board member wasn't present at the meeting.
Tuesday night, Kai LaFlamme was one of many speaking before school board members.
“As a transgender student, there’s dysphoria. There’s mental health issues,” LaFlamme said. “As a transgender male, I feel like a creep going into the women’s restroom because I’m not a woman.
“Me, myself, I’m lucky enough to have a very supportive family, but I have friends who will go home afraid of their parents,” LaFlamme added.
Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) school board members are expected to vote on policies required to be in place in school districts across the Commonwealth by the 2021-2022 school year.
Last year, state lawmakers passed a law requiring local school boards to adopt policies on the treatment of transgender students consistent or more comprehensive than models developed by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE).
“This issue is fundamentally about the autonomy of students, and their right to safety, recognition and support in their schools,” transgender student advocate Gavin Grimm said.
It’s been a highly debated topic across Hampton Roads for weeks. Tuesday, students, advocates and families who are both for and against the policies continued to make their voices heard.
“You have the power to create safe environments for these kids,” Virginia Beach parent Jessica Miley said.
"As a Christian, I condemn any discrimination or hurtful act towards anyone that is confused about their sex,” Virginia Beach grandparent Thomas Conant said. “But, I would not lie to them and tell them how they feel defines their identity."
“Our schools are confusing kids,” Virginia Beach parent Annie Palumbo said during Tuesday’s meeting.
Palumbo, along with dozens of others, rallied before Tuesday night’s meeting outside. She said they're not against transgender people, but said they stand up for parental consent and rights.
“It is not up to the teachers or the school system to teach our kids what their gender is,” Palumbo told News 3.
Meanwhile, others like Hampton Roads teacher Amber Bowmer believe the transgender policies are vital.
“It is so much more than just the bathroom policy,” Bowmer told News 3. “Just because we don’t like change doesn’t mean that it is bad.”