The LGBTQ+ community in Virginia can breathe a sigh of relief after several bills aimed at them failed to make it out of committee.
Six Republican-proposed measures that threatened transgender students' rights were voted down by the Virginia Senate Education Committee on Thursday.
Four Republican lawmakers had introduced bills banning gender-affirming health care for minors and excluding transgender students from teams that matched their gender identity, LGBTQ Nationreports.
Several conservatives had proposed bills banning transition-related medical care for minors, including Sens. Bryce Reeves, Amanda Chase, and Mark Peake. GOP senators John Cosgrove, Reeves, and Peake proposed legislation prohibiting transgender student-athletes from participating in school teams.
The measures were defeated by Virginia's Democrats, who control the Senate.
Ten out of 12 anti-trans bills introduced during the current legislative session were defeated, according to LGBTQ+ rights group Equality Virginia.
"The Senate Education committee officially killed 6 anti-trans bills (three athlete bans, three healthcare bans). Over 3000 emails in opposition were sent to committee members! Virginia- you've helped defeat 10/12 anti-trans bills!" the group tweeted.
Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, has made transgender affairs a focal point of his term. He has framed the debate around trans and LGBTQ+ subjects in school as essential for parental involvement regardless of a student's desires. He claims to be supporting a "parents' rights agenda" — a talking point used by many Republicans targeting LGBTQ+ rights.
In September, Youngkin put forth "model policies" that outlined the state's policies surrounding school instruction and operation. As a result of the new policy, which is called the "Model Policies on the Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for All Students and Parents in Virginia's Public Schools," all affirming and inclusive measures are undone, and the question becomes whether cruelty is the goal, the document states.
School employees are instructed to refer to students only using their official names and pronouns, to participate in athletic teams or extracurricular activities according to their gender at birth, and to use bathrooms according to their sex unless federal law requires otherwise.
Thousands of students across the commonwealth walked out of their classes in September during a protest to show solidarity with students' LGBTQ+ peers.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia celebrated this week's development on Twitter.
"VICTORY: The Senate Education committee killed 6 anti-trans bills this morning, 3 sports bans and 3 healthcare bans. Overall, 10 out of 12 anti-trans bills introduced this #VALeg are OFFICIALLY DEAD. Trans people BELONG in Virginia. Anti-trans bills don't," the ACL tweeted.Equality Virginia tweeted its satisfaction with the legislation being killed.
"Thank you to everyone who has spoken up against these bills," the organization tweeted. "Virginia is remaining a better, more inclusive state because of your efforts. The fight isn't over, but we know Virginians will show up for trans youth, day after day. Because #transyouthbelong."