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Glenn Youngkin Scrambles as Virginia Schools Reject His Anti-Trans Policies

Glenn Youngkin Scrambles as Virginia Schools Reject His Anti-Trans Policies

School books and VA Gov. Glenn Youngkin

The conservative governor is trying to figure out how to force districts that refuse to discriminate against their students to implement his policies.

As the school year begins anew in Virginia, many districts around the state are rejecting Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s new school policies that advocates say discriminate against transgender students. His administration is scrambling to find ways to compel school districts to adopt these controversial new policies.

During a Fox News interview on Monday, Youngkin criticized schools that aren’t adopting his administration’s controversial “Model Policies on Ensuring Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for All Students and Parents in Virginia’s Public Schools” for transgender students, stating that “it is the law and they don’t have a choice.”

Appearing on “The Story with Martha MacCallum,” Youngkin griped how many districts around the commonwealth are considering or have chosen to forego implementing the 2023 policies that have been in the works since last September and were finalized in July.

“It’s the law, and the law is very clear that I issue model policies, and local school districts have to adopt policies consistent with the model policies,” Youngkin explained to MacCallum.

The policies require students to use bathrooms and locker rooms according to their assigned sex at birth. They also require that all parents provide written permission to the school if a student wishes to use a name or pronoun that differs from their official records. Furthermore, schools must disclose to parents if students share information regarding their sexual orientation or gender identity with school staff.

The Advocate spoke with Niko, a transgender teen who goes to school in Arlington.

Niko made headlines for calling out Gov. Youngkin on his transgender model policies for trans students at a CNN town hall event in March. Youngkin appeared stumped when Niko asked which bathroom Youngkin thought the teen should use.

“I think it shows that he’s grasping at straws,” Niko said. “Youngkin doesn’t have a lot to stand on right now. I think that this is a topic that is firing people up right now, and so it’s something that he’s able to rely on.”

Niko added, “If you saw the town hall, I think you know that he doesn’t really know what he’s talking about here. You could see that there was a moment where he realized that he didn’t really know what he was going to say. I think that it’s telling that the fight that he’s chosen is to talk about schools and talk about trans issues in education, but that he doesn’t seem to understand what that means and that he doesn’t have a good answer for what bathroom I should use.”

Niko notes that until that interaction, Youngkin hadn’t spoken about gender-neutral bathrooms, which he brought up in response to Niko’s question.

The district where Niko goes to school has rejected Younkin’s new policies.

Superintendent of Arlington Public Schools, Francisco Durán, toldThe Advocate recently that he believes that his district’s current policies align with Virginia law and that he would not implement the governor’s discriminatory new guidelines.

“It’s very important for me to make the statement because when the model policies came out, many of our families, our staff, and our students were very concerned with what they meant for them,” he said. “As the superintendent of all students, regardless of their background, it’s my responsibility to ensure we provide a welcoming, safe environment for them.”

On Thursday, Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares gave his opinion regarding new guidelines the Virginia Department of Education set forth regarding transgender and nonbinary students.

As part of a release issued by the attorney general’s office on Thursday, Miyares said the new guidance “complies with federal and state nondiscrimination laws,” adding that “the model policies comply with the Equal Protection Clause, Title IX, and the Virginia Human Rights Act,” noting “local school boards are required to adopt policies that are consistent with them.”

An opinion on the guidelines was released “at the request of Governor Glenn Youngkin,” who expressed support for the guidelines, saying that children should “trust your parents,” Miyares said.

The opinion stated that under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, parents have “a fundamental right to direct the upbringing and education of their children.”

The opinion continued, “Parents, not government, are in the best position to work with their children on important life decisions, and no parent signs up to co-parent with the government. The Model Policies ensure that all students are treated with dignity and that parental involvement remains at the center. These policies are fully compliant with the law, and school boards across the commonwealth should support and implement them.”

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