Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin’s administration declared it had finalized new policies on treating transgender students, but some had already rejected them.
Youngkin is pleased with the policies
The Governor told AP, “This is about doing what’s best for the child.” Youngkin added about VDOE’s Model Policies on Ensuring Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for All Students and Parents in Virginia’s Public Schools, “And oh, by the way, also recognizing that we need to ensure the privacy and dignity and respect of all children and all parents in the school system. And that’s what I think we have … very carefully constructed here.”
Republican Governor wanted changes since 2022
The Governor’s administration issued new policies for the treatment of transgender students and guidance for school divisions that would remove some accommodations and tighten parental notification requirements in September 2022.
Macaulay Porter, a spokesperson for Youngkin, issued a statement claiming that the updated policy “delivers on the governor’s commitment to preserving parental rights and upholding the dignity and respect of all public school students.”
Student activists organized protests, disrupting school classes so other students would know what was happening. Students claimed “every single queer student in Virginia” would be harmed by the new policies.
Thousands of comments
The Virginia Department of Education received over 17k comments after the initial announcement in September.
The finalized version
The finalized 18-page model has an option for parents to request their children to get access to a sex-separated facility if “state or federal law requires schools to permit transgender students to share otherwise sex-segregated facilities (such as bathrooms or locker rooms) with students of the opposite sex.”
Trust your parents
Minors must be called by their official names and birth-assigned gender. The only exceptions come if parents request otherwise. “Youngkin further explained, “What we’re not saying is that trusted counselors and other trusted adults in a child’s life should be excluded. What we are … saying is that parents just need to be involved and are the first stop. And then collectively there is … a support mechanism around a child that can be most effective.”
The Family Foundation praised Virginia Governor
The Family Foundation wrote in a statement, “We are pleased that Governor Youngkin has worked to fulfill his campaign pledge to affirm the right of parents to raise their children without government interference.” But not everyone was as supportive.
Equality Virginia issued a statement
Narissa Rahaman, executive director of Equality Virginia, said, “Today, Governor Youngkin and the VDOE made a dangerous, politically motivated decision to ignore the thousands of Virginians who submitted public comments in opposition to his proposed model policies — policies which single out transgender and nonbinary youth in our schools.”
Schools are already rejecting new policies
Superintendent for Richmond Public Schools Jason Kamras announced on Twitter, “At RPS, our motto is to Teach with Love.”
Kamras added, “That means embracing and protecting our students for exactly who they are. So I will recommend to the Board that we maintain our current policies on transgender students and reject the state’s new model guidance.”
The Governor did not answer a critical question
Virginia Governor refused to answer a hypothetical question regarding restricting or banning gender-affirming care for transgender minors. Over 17 states have passed laws limiting or prohibiting gender-affirming care for transgender minors, though judges have temporarily blocked some of them.
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