Creating Inclusive Schools

Equality Virginia believes that all students and school employees have the right to feel safe in their educational environment or workplace, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. 

Current Status

July 1, 2020 Update: The Virginia Values Act now protects all LGBTQ students and school employees in public and some private schools from discrimination in education and employment.  By the start of the 2021-2022 school year, all Virginia school boards will need to adopt model policies on how to treat and support transgender and non-binary students. Currently, the Virginia Department of Education is working on creating those model policies. You can learn more here.

Currently, thirteen school districts in Virginia have non-discrimination protections for students and employees that include sexual orientation and gender identity: Albermarle, Charlottesville, Loudoun, Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Chuch, Fairfax, Manassas, Manassas Park, Prince William, Richmond, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach. This accounts for more than 35% of Virginia’s public school students and employees are protected based on their sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.

Many school districts don’t realize they have the power to protect LGBT students and employee through policy updates. Due to Attorney General Mark Herring’s 2015 opinion on school boards’ authority, localities are able to enact nondiscrimination policies that include sexual orientation and gender identity.

View a PDF version here.

Our Work

Equality Virginia works with public school districts across Virginia to update bullying and nondiscrimination policies so that they include both sexual orientation and gender identity & expression.

A 2017 survey from GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network) shows that verbal harassment decreases significantly in schools with LGBTQ-inclusive anti-bullying policies. Additionally, employees of these districts are more likely to intervene when they witness instances of harassment. Therefore, we believe it is in the school district’s best interests to implement comprehensive nondiscrimination policies to protect students in the state of Virginia.

Our Safe Schools work includes sharing educational documents and personal stories, facilitating training, phone calls, letters, and meetings with school board members and administrative officials, sending membership emails, and participation in public comment periods. We work to ensure every LGBTQ student has a fair chance to succeed in school and prepare for their future. Every child should be treated fairly and equally under the law.

Bring Inclusivity to Your School

More Actions


To Learn More:

  • Schools in Transition, A Guide for Supporting Transgender Students in K-12 Schools. Expansive, detailed guide on how to help schools become more inclusive for gender diversity in ways that benefit all students.
  • Transgender Students and Bathrooms, Gender Spectrum. Being able to feel safe in everyday spaces in incredibly important for trans youth. Check out this guide for understanding how to make bathrooms accessible for trans students and why it matters.

Student Support: