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Rockingham County School Board discussing parental notification of name changes

Published: May. 24, 2022 at 8:02 AM EDT
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BRIDGEWATER, Va. (WHSV) - The Rockingham County School Board met on Monday at Turner Ashby High School and the hot topic was a discussion on whether parents should be notified when their child asks to be called a different name in class.

Currently, the school division does not notify parents when a child asks to go by a different name. At the board’s previous meeting on May 9th school board member, Matt Cross expressed concerns that parents aren’t notified if a child asks to be called a name that denotes a gender change.

During the discussion, Cross went over a draft of a proposed policy he wrote that would notify parents of a requested name change and have consequences for staff who did not report it.

Before the discussion, during the public comment period of the meeting, six people spoke out against a change to the policy.

“Outing a trans-child to their parent has nothing to do with parental rights it is about scaring them back into gender conformity. By outing students, by contacting parents of social name and gender changes you’re actively putting children in harm’s way,” said Ashley Saunders, a parent who spoke at the meeting.

One RCPS staff member did speak in support of Cross’s proposal. Cross said it doesn’t matter to him what gender or sexuality students identify with but that it’s all about parental involvement.

“Parents need to be involved, they need to be made aware and they need to consent to have teachers, administrators, counselors, everyone at school to call their child by another name,” said Cross.

Cross’s proposed policy will be sent for division review before it can be brought back to be considered and voted on at a future school board meeting.

Monday was also the first school board meeting since an allegation of a sexual assault involving two students at Broadway High School.

There were no agenda items related to the incident and just one public speaker brought up the allegation.

School officials said they’re still not able to give details because the incident is actively being investigated by the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office but superintendent Dr. Oskar Scheikl did make some comments about the allegations.

During his comments, Scheikl dispelled some rumors about the incident that have been floating around on social media. Scheikl confirmed that school officials contacted law enforcement within three minutes of the allegation being made.

He said that the idea the school division is trying to sweep the incident under the rug is completely false.

“If people think that I don’t take it seriously or that the school doesn’t take it seriously, that’s not it. I lost my brother to suicide and he was sexually assaulted as a kid. So for me, this is a very very personal topic,” said Dr. Scheikl.

Scheikl also said that information and rumors spread on social media regarding the incident make law enforcement’s investigation more difficult.

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