Friday, May 24, 2024

Virgina Gov. Condemned for Changes in Transgender School Policy That Allow More Parental Involvement

While parents across the nation have felt blindsided by school educators that teach and promote transgender issues to even some of the youngest school children without parental consent, and then loudly vilify anyone — especially parents — who don’t agree with their approach, the ongoing attacks in the media against Virgina Gov. Glenn Youngkin for his policy shift that promises parents a greater say-so when facing transgender issues with their own children really is just par for the course.

And Virginia has become Ground Zero for the raucous public debate over transgender policies.

Since the policy shift was announced late last week, numerous news outlets across the country have published headlines decrying Youngkin’s actions as a “war” against transgender youth.

“We were disappointed, angry, and really concerned about the well-being for trans and nonbinary students here in Virginia. We’re not at all surprised the governor decided to release this quietly on a Friday afternoon. I think that signals this was purely a political stunt,” Narissa Rahaman, executive director of Equality Virginia, an LGBTQ advocacy group, told WJLA-TV, an ABC affiliate out of Washington, D.C. “This policy that was released Friday was not drafted with any feedback from any stakeholders, any LGBTQ students, parents with LGBTQ youth.”

In a Sep. 22 posting at the New Republic website, Melissa Gira Grant wrote Gov Youngkinis forwarding “a new mandate to enshrine discrimination against trans students in school district policy…The Youngkin model policy sends the message that trans and nonbinary students should be subject to further judgement and discrimination…it can and should be described as anti-democratic and fascistic.”

Gov. Youngkin’s spokeswoman, Macaulay Porter, issued the following statement:

The 2022 model policy posted delivers on the governor’s commitment to preserving parental rights and upholding the dignity and respect of all public school students. It is not under a school’s or the government’s purview to impose a set of particular ideological beliefs on all students. Key decisions rest, first and foremost, with the parents. The previous policies implemented under the Northam Administration did not uphold constitutional principles and parental rights, and will be replaced.  

Virginia’s updated Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools says explicitly that all students should be treated with respect, each child is unique and should have the opportunity to go to school without fear of bullying.

The new policy directs that students be addressed by their biological gender in school records, unless a child’s parent approves of their child using a different pronoun.

The new rules also require students use the bathrooms and play sports of the sex they were assigned at birth, require parental approval and legal documentation to allow a student to change the pronoun by which they are referred and give parents the opportunity to deny their child counseling involving gender at schools. The rules do not require teachers and school staff to refer to transgender students by their preferred pronouns.

The proposed policies, expected to go into effect after a 30-day public comment period, reverses the model policies currently in place, which were established by the Virginia Department of Education under Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam.

The policy changes “sort of really directly puts transgender and nonbinary youth in harm’s way. This is a group that’s already at risk of harassment and bullying in school. Of particular concern is essentially writing into the policy transgender and nonbinary students could be forcibly outed to their parents, whether or not they had conversations with their parents about their gender identity,” Rahaman continued in her comments to WJLA-TV. “By forcibly outing students who have not had those conversations with their parents, Gov. Youngkin and the Department of Education are essentially subjecting trans and nonbinary youth to abuse at home.”

During an event early this week in Loudoun County, Gov. Youngkin said he wanted to assure the people of Virginia the change is about making sure parents are involved in decisions surrounding their kids.

“At the moment, where there are very difficult issues in families, challenging issues in families, families come together. And this is why parents, in fact, have a role in their children’s lives. Parents have known these children from before they were born. And they understand them and they love them. And this is a chance for families to come together, not to be excluded,” Youngkin said. “I would say trust your parents.”

Data provided by researchers at UCLA say there are about 6,200 transgender children ages 13-to-17 in Virginia, less than half of a single percent of the estimated 1.25 million students in the state’s public schools. Assuming this data is correct, that equates to about three transgender children per school statewide.