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Glenn Youngkin Goes After Transgender Kids in Revised School Policies

Glenn Youngkin Goes After Transgender Kids in Revised School Policies

Glenn Youngkin

His administration’s “model policies” roll back protections the previous Democratic governor implemented to affirm the identities of vulnerable transgender kids.

A revised policy for the rights of transgender students in public schools was unveiled by the Virginia Department of Education on Tuesday afternoon, providing the first update since an early version of the guidelines was released last year. Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin's so-called model policies severely limit the rights that transgender students had previously enjoyed under Youngkin's predecessor Democrat Ralph Northam.

In September, Youngkin’s administration released the first version of these policies requiring transgender students to use school restrooms and lockers according to their birth gender, leading to mass walkouts by students across the state.

In the unironically titled final “Model Policies to Ensure Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for All Students and Parents in Virginia’s Public Schools,” some of these guidelines are incorporated, focusing on what Republicans call “parents’ rights.”

In 2021, Youngkin won his election on the falsehood he asserted that schools were teaching white students uncomfortable lessons in Critical Race Theory behind their parents’ backs.

As governor, he has reversed progressive policies passed by the state's two previous governors — both of who were Democrats.

Since his election, the conservative movement overall has embraced restricting books, topics of discussion, and LGBTQ+ students’ rights as a rallying cry in the name of “parents’ rights.”

Each Virginia school system must adopt a version of the policy, which requires that students be addressed based on their sex assigned at birth. The guidelines specify that unless a parent requests a change in writing, teachers and other school personnel cannot refer to a student by a different name or use preferred pronouns. Students must use the school facilities that correspond with the sex listed on their official records, according to the new rules.

“All children in Virginia deserve to have a parent engaged in their life and to be treated with dignity and respect,” Youngkin said in an online statement Tuesday. “The VDOE updated model policies reaffirm my administration’s continued commitment to ensure that every parent is involved in conversations regarding their child’s education, upbringing, and care.”

According to the document, the 2023 policies will take effect on Wednesday.

Executive director of Equality Virginia Narissa Rahaman lambasted Youngkin and his education department for the “dangerous” policies.

“Gov 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,” Rahaman said in a statement. “Youngkin did all of this with no input from LGBTQ+ advocacy groups nor subject matter experts.”

Rahaman continued, “Instead of addressing the very real issues we have ahead of us, Governor Youngkin’s response is to escalate a culture war and drop a policy that harms kids, removes resources for teachers and ignores the rights of parents in Virginia.”

She wrote that as school districts implement a version of their own policies, Equality Virginia will continue to fight on behalf of marginalized kids in schools.

“To the transgender and nonbinary students, their parents, and their teachers who are grappling with this disappointing news-we see you and loves you. These policies are not yet in effect and we will do everything in our power to make sure your school district rejects them,” she wrote.

The model policy implementation is the latest among Youngkin’s recent attacks against the LGBTQ+ community as part of a greater war on the existence of particularly transgender people by Republicans nationwide.

Earlier this month, his administration removed resources from a Virginia Department of Health website that provided young people with support around LGBTQ+ issues and other health resources.

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