Gov. Youngkin Defends New Transgender Rules: Students ‘Don’t Belong to the State, They Belong to Families’

Lauren Shank | September 29, 2022 | 3:39pm EDT
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Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R).  (Getty Images)
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R). (Getty Images)

(CNS News) – In the wake of liberal criticism and student walkouts in Virginia’s public schools, Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) defended his administration’s new transgender-bathroom policies explaining that they were designed to bring “parents fully in” to the decision-making process at their schools. 

Youngkin also stressed that students, children “don’t belong to the state, they belong to families.”

On Fox & Friends, Sept. 27, Youngkin said, “The difference in what our policies are really focused on is indeed bringing parents fully in. My predecessor [Democrat Ralph Northam] issued policies that, in fact, excluded parents, and I don’t think that’s correct and Virginia voters spoke loudly about that last year.”

That same day,  thousands of Virginia students protested Gov. Youngkin’s transgender plan through walkouts orchestrated by the Pride Liberation Project. According to the Washington Post, more than 90 schools, such as Oakton High School in Vienna, Va., Falls Church High School in Fairfax County, and Langly High School in McLean participated.

According to Youngkin, the new polices bring parents into the transgender discussion with their children and makes them [parents] a primary-decision maker in how their kids are identified at school.

“This is a moment for us to also recognize that our families are so important,” Youngkin said. “The children don’t belong to the state, they belong to families. And so, as children are dealing with important topics, parents have to be at the center and that’s what these policies are all about.”

The topics of pronouns, bathrooms and sports for transgender students are all part of Youngkin’s new policies that are essential for parents to be engaged in.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

“If a parent is fully engaged in their child’s life and in fact, authorizes a change in a name or pronoun or bathroom use, then that accommodation will be made for that student,” Youngkin remarked. “We’ve taken a further step to say that in sports that are actually segregated by sex, they’re going to be segregated by biological sex … biological boys shouldn’t be playing sports with biological girls.”

Youngkin believes his administration has taken a “very commonsense approach” while also respecting the dignity of the kids and families.

“We are having to correct, I think, a big mistake,” Youngkin said, “which was previous policies that excluded parents from these decisions. And so, that is a change and I think it’s an important one to make.”

According to Virginia’s Department of Education, the new policies zero in on principles such as: schools respecting the values and beliefs of parents; schools deferring to parents to make the best decisions with respect to their children; schools keeping parents informed on their children’s well-being; and serving the needs of all students through involving the parents.

The model policies include a breakdown of the phrase “transgender student” as “a public school student whose parent has requested in writing, due to their child’s persistent and sincere belief that his or her gender differs with his or her sex, that their child be so identified while at school.”

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Students who are 18 years of age or older, or under the age of 18 and emancipated, are considered an “eligible student.”

In a scenario where kids are afraid to tell their parents about the desire to change their identity, Youngkin emphasizes the need for trust, while keeping parents on the frontline of these important decisions.

“I think they [kids] need to trust their parents," he said, "parents love their children, they’ve loved them from before they were born and I have asked students to trust their parents, and this is a moment also where good counseling and a good teacher relationship can help engage with parents.”

Youngkin continued, “This is a team, but parents have to be at the center of it. I also believe this is a moment for us to step back and recognize that the moment that we begin to push parents out of families, out of decisions around Virginia of whether they wear masks or not, or whether the materials are appropriate for school, or in these most important decisions in their children’s lives, I think we have all of a sudden taken a step so far out of bounds of what family dynamics must be. Where parents [are] deeply engaged in their kids’ lives. This is a moment for us to step back and I think right or wrong, and the wrong was to exclude parents from these decisions.”

“Your parents will be involved,” Youngkin affirmed. “And if your parents in fact acknowledge and support an accommodation for you, then the accommodation shall be made. But at the end of the day, it is clear that parents have to be engaged and kids can’t make these decisions without them.”

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