Briar Reacts to Policy 8040: How do we compare to classrooms of the past?


Dianne Barahona Bonilla, Reporter

On August 11th, 2021, Policy 8040: Rights of Transgender and Gender-Expansive Students was enacted at the Virginia general assembly and was set to adopt said policy at the beginning of the 2021-22 school year. This policy allows transgender students to use their identified gender, pronouns, and declared name. Loudoun County does not require verification from parents, nor evidence. Students are also permitted to use the bathroom and participate in sports aligning with their gender. All LCPS staff are required to undergo training over topics on the LGBTQ+ community. 

Merely years ago, the LGBTQ+ community was not a topic one could freely talk about, especially involving transgender people. They were heavily discriminated against and had little to no support from the public. Transgender kids all over the country hid their identities in fear of backlash. It wasn’t until the mid-1980s when sex reassignment surgery was permitted by the government. Still, the public’s opinion did not change. Transgender people lacked legal protection and in turn, faced violent hate crimes. 

“People should be able to identify with the gender they want, and the school has no right to refuse,” answered a freshman at Briar Woods after posed with the question: How do you feel about the newly implemented transgender policy?

Many transgender students are relieved, expressing their happiness knowing there are plans in place to make them feel welcome and represented. Others are worried about how parents and teachers will react, an appropriate concern considering numerous parents reacted negatively by criticizing the code at the LCPS public meetings. Teachers against this new policy have resigned, seeking employment elsewhere. Ms. Laura Morris, an LCPS teacher, resigned in front of the school board announcing, “School board, I quit…I quit being a cog in a machine that tells me to push highly politicized agendas on our most vulnerable constituents – the children.”

Students at Briar Woods have varying reactions now that the policy is in effect. A sophomore stated, “I don’t feel comfortable going to the bathroom anymore because boys might take advantage of this new rule to mess with the girls.” LCPS acknowledges this and responded saying they would take disciplinary action against whoever fails to treat the policy with respect. 

Society has evolved in recent times. Our classrooms have become more diverse and accepting. With the help of activists and social media, governments, businesses, and local officials have begun to accept changes in social norms. While many are against it, others see it as an opportunity to understand our youth. Any type of discrimination is not tolerated and will be met with heavy consequences. This is not to say that trans discrimination does not still exist, but we are one step closer to an all-inclusive, welcoming environment where all can thrive.