Virgina governor says reviled trans school policy is all about parents’ rights

Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin speaks at a campaign event.

Virginia governor Glenn Younkin has insisted his trans student bathroom ban isn’t “controversial”, despite widespread outrage.

The Republican proposed the policy – which disallows trans students to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender – in September.

He claimed during an interview on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday (9 October) that it was designed to allow parents to make decisions for their child.

In fact, along with making bathroom access dependent on gender assigned at birth, Youngkin’s policy proposal states that schools should defer to parents on names, nicknames and “pronouns, if any” for their children, as well as any “social transition”. It also suggests that schools should out trans students to their parents.

“I just think the idea that we’re going to have policies that exclude parents from their children’s lives is something that I have been going to work on since day one,” Youngkin said.

“We campaigned on it. We empowered parents to make decisions with regards to [COVID-19] masking in Virginia. We have empowered parents to make decisions with regards to curriculum that fits their families’ decisions.”

As well as instructing students to use the bathrooms of the sex written on their birth certificate, the policies also prohibit preferred pronouns and given names without express consent from parents.

Youngkin describes these policy changes as fixing “a wrong” with previous guidance allowing for schools and institutions to decide on policies for specific students.

“The previous administration had a policy that excluded parents and, in fact, particularly didn’t require the involvement of parents,” he said. “Children don’t belong to the state, they belong to families.

“And so, in these most important decisions, step one has to be to engage parents, not the exclusion of a trusted teacher of an advisor, but to make sure that parents are involved in their children’s lives.”

Regardless of how significantly Youngkin believes in his policy changes, the assertion that the legislation is uncontroversial is not true, given the amount of pushback he has received from activists and allies.

Senate Democrats lambasted the move in a joint statement reported by The New York Post, saying they were “an outright violation of Virginian’s civil rights.”

Democratic delegate Mike Mullin called the new policy “absolutely shameful” in a tweet that criticised “calls for the misgendering and outing of children in schools where they’re supposed to be safe.”

Additionally, thousands of Virginia students from nearly 100 schools walked out of school on 28 September to protest the policy, saying that they are fearful of how the new policy could affect them.

“We want our school districts to stand up for us and support us and say they’ll reject these guidelines,” 16-year-old Lauren Truong told The Guardian after she lead fellow schoolmates in a walkout.

Additionally, high school senior Natasha Sanghvi said to NBC Washington that the group decided to hold the walkouts “as a kind of way to disrupt schools and have students be aware of what’s going on.”