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Glenn Youngkin Strips LGBTQ+ Young People of Resources in Virginia

Glenn Youngkin Strips LGBTQ+ Young People of Resources in Virginia

Glenn Youngkin

The Republican who claims to be all about parental rights continues to dismantle gains built by his two Democratic predecessors.

As governor of Virginia, Glenn Youngkin has targeted the progressive policies of the two Democratic administrations in the state before him since he was elected after a campaign that falsely claimed that teachers secretly taught critical race theory to kids. Recently, Virginia’s Department of Health removed resources for LGBTQ+ kids seeking help after a right-wing media outlet, the Daily Wire, inquired about two websites listed on the department’s webpage that offered LGBTQ+ youth support.

Internal agency emails indicate Youngkin removed the entire resources page in response, baffling agency employees.

“Did someone request this?” Emily Yeatts, the supervisor for the Division of Child and Family Health at the Department of Health, asked others in an email on May 31, according to the Virginia Mercury. “This request did not come from the program.”

In parallel, Vanessa Walker Harris, director of the Office of Family Health Services, which manages the page’s content, emailed division employees, communications staff, and deputy director Robert Hicks.

“I’m noticing that the referenced webpage is no longer accessible, and I’m having a bad case of deja vu,” Walker Harris replied. “What am I missing? I’m very concerned that staff were directed to remove the webpage without engaging [subject matter experts] in response to a politically motivated inquiry, yet again.”

According to the emails, the Office of Family Health Services’ webpages were audited for nine LGBTQ+-related terms.

Youngkin’s spokesperson, Macaulay Porter, sent The Advocate a statement that ignored all questions that had been submitted for response.

“In Virginia, the governor will always reaffirm a parent’s role in their child’s life. Children belong to their parents, not the state,” Porter wrote. “The webpage in question outsourced conversations where adults directly speak with children about sex to a third-party website without notifying parents.”

She continued, “The governor supports providing resources that are age appropriate however the government should not facilitate anonymous conversations between adults and children without a parent’s approval. Sexualizing children against a parent’s wishes doesn’t belong on a taxpayer-supported website.”

Experts in childhood development, advocates, and LGBTQ+ people who have lived experience note that providing young people with the opportunity to discuss matters around their identities is not only age-appropriate but also imperative for teens’ wellbeing, given that many minors are rejected by their parents or other family members for broaching the subject of gender or sexual diversity.

Research shows that providing young people with an avenue to discuss their sexual orientation or gender identity in a safe, affirming, and confidential environment decreases significantly the risk of suicidal ideation.

Executive director of Equality Virginia Narissa Rahaman criticized Youngkin’s move.

“The Youngkin administration has openly tried to roll back the rights of LGBTQ+ Virginians — from its proposed policies on the treatment of trans youth in schools to its support of anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced in the general assembly,” Rahaman tells The Advocate.

“Now, it’s also quietly removing resources for the LGBTQ+ community. This is part of a pattern with this administration, where it’s more important to appeal to an anti-LGBTQ+ political base rather than serve LGBTQ+ Virginians in any capacity,” she continued.

“Additionally, the governor of a commonwealth of more than 8.5 million people continues to make decisions without consulting subject matter experts or any input from the community, including LGBTQ+ parents or parents of LGBTQ+ children. It’s craven, politically motivated, and fully transparent what Youngkin is prioritizing, and it isn’t us.”

In an archived version of the LGBTQ+ Resources for Youth page, links lead to two national websites: Q Chat Space and Queer Kid Stuff and Virginia Pride, two LGBTQ+ nonprofit organizations in the state. The Trevor Project and Virginia Antiviolence Project both offer medical and counseling services and support lines for LGBTQ+ and transgender youth.

The office of Secretary of Health and Human Resources John Littel ordered the removal following an inquiry from a Daily Wire reporter named Spencer Lindquist on May 31. Lindquist subsequently published an article about two resources listed on the page, according to emails obtained under FOIA.

That morning, Lindquist sent a series of inquiries to the agency’s communications staff about the Q Chat Space, and Queer Kid Stuff links to resources.

“How are resources selected by the Virginia Department of Health?” Lindquist asked. “Queer Kid Stuff has previously promoted child transgenderism. Does the Virginia Department of Health take a stance on the medical transitioning of minors? Is the Virginia Department of Health aware that the QChat Space, which is marketed to those as young as 13 who identify as LGBT, has a special quick escape feature that allows users to swiftly exit the site?”

Lindquist said the agency had two hours to respond.

Last year, far-right extremists and Republican politicians targeted some of the same online resources offering LGBTQ+ youth a supportive and confidential environment for dealing with their identity.

Q Chat Space is a resource that provides adolescents ages 13 to 19 struggling with their sexuality the opportunity to participate in chat-based discussion groups moderated by experienced staff.

In addition to CenterLink, which supports community LGBTQ+ centers, PFLAG, the oldest and largest LGBTQ group in the nation, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America support the program.

The website of Queer Kid Stuff states that it is an edutainment company that spreads queer joy to LGBTQ+ kids, parents, caregivers, educators, family members, and allies. It uses its mission to fight erasure by focusing on queer history, identity, and experiences. In addition to destigmatizing LGBTQ+ issues, the group works on other projects to benefit the community.

Q Chat Space and Queer Kid Stuff were added to VDH’s webpage in October 2019. Lindsay noted that the page received 189 visits to Q Chat Space and 154 to Queer Kid Stuff the previous year.

In the past year, the LGBTQ Resources for Youth page was accessed over 2,500 times, with nearly 2,100 visitors leaving the site immediately, according to Lindsay.

Rahaman says that all of Youngkin’s anti-LGBTQ+ policies should remain top of mind for voters.

“Virginia has the opportunity — now, and in the fall, when voters head to the ballot box — to reaffirm that it is a welcoming place to live, work and do business. As other states work to roll back progress, we should keep fighting to make sure Virginia bucks that trend,” she says.

If you are having thoughts of suicide or are concerned that someone you know may be, resources are available to help. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 is for people of all ages and identities. Trans Lifeline, designed for transgender or gender-nonconforming people, can be reached at (877) 565-8860. The lifeline also provides resources to help with other crises, such as domestic violence situations. The Trevor Project Lifeline, for LGBTQ+ youth (ages 24 and younger), can be reached at (866) 488-7386. Users can also access chat services at or text START to 678678.

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