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What Youngkin’s New Policy Means for Transgender Students

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at VCU chapter.

On Sept. 16, 2022, Gov. Glenn Youngkin drafted a new policy regarding how school personnel will refer to transgender students. The draft policies require teachers and staff to address students by their gender on their official records and only legal documentation will allow otherwise. This new “biological sex” categorization will interfere with which bathrooms, locker rooms, and other facilities a transgender student may use. The policy also addresses sports participation: “any athletic program or activity that is separated by sex, the appropriate participation of students shall be determined by sex.” Parents will have to be fully informed of their child’s change of gender identity, name and pronouns while at school. A parent or guardian is the only authority that may allow a transgender child to express themselves with a different identity than what is stated on their school records. 

This new policy will edit the current guidelines from the Virginia Department of Education that allows transgender students to use facilities such as bathrooms and locker rooms that they believe match their gender identity. Parents and other students are not entitled to be informed of personal information regarding the gender identity or pronouns of a transgender student according to the original model. 

During Youngkin’s campaign, one of his most defining winning points was that parents would play a more significant role in their children’s education in public schools. The governor promised parents they would be empowered through his executive orders. Youngkin proclaimed, “We’re going to go to work in order to protect parents’ rights to make sure there’s transparency, to make sure parents are fully informed and that parents make these most important decisions in conjunction with their child, not a bureaucrat or politician,” during a rally in August. His “Parents Matter” campaign encourages parents to strike back against schools if they do not agree with the curriculum, COVID-19 protocols, and individual staff members that are “too liberal and closely aligned to teacher unions.” 

Though the policy does not go into effect until after the 30-day public comment period, there has already been resistance from school districts. During a meeting between the governor and the state’s congressional delegation, a “heated exchange” erupted between Virginia Republican and Democratic representatives over the transgender student policy. The two sides argued about whether or not the directive endangers transgender children. Vile remarks about transgender children were made as well as mentions of grooming and the “mutilation of children”. Other representatives brought up how this rule will negatively affect children’s mental health and if it is constitutionally supported. The Washington Post argued that the restriction is illegal. Many claim Youngkin is illegally discriminating against transgender children based on the Virginia Human Rights Act that protects gender identity preferences in schools.

The first openly transgender member of the Virginia House of Delegates, Del. Danica A. Roem, concluded the debate by telling parents that Youngkin’s policy is against the law and that regardless of whether or not people are for or against the rule—it is illegal. Virginians are counting on the possibility of the ruling being sent to court. If the model policy is approved, transgender students will be forced to be addressed by names, pronouns, and gender specifications that are not what that individual identifies with, excluded from athletics and other gender-classified activities, as well as being outed to their families without their consent.

Ariana is a fashion merchandising major and theater minor at Virginia Commonwealth University with interests in costume design and film. She is a member of the editorial team and is enthusiastic about sustainability, fashion, beauty, mental health, and current events. She loves supporting women through HC.