Virginia Governor Introduces New School Gender Policies Prioritizing Parental Rights

Virginia Governor Introduces New School Gender Policies Prioritizing Parental Rights

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has replaced the Virginia Department of Education’s “2021 Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools” with a new set of guidelines called “2022 Model Policies on the Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for All Students and Parents in Virginia’s Public Schools.”

Youngkin, who was largely elected based on his promise to protect parental rights, called the announcement of the new guidelines “a meaningful moment … to come together and support all children in Virginia.”

The 2022 guidelines are clearly a rebuttal of former Gov. Ralph Northam’s liberal educational policies.

“The 2021 Model Policies promoted a specific viewpoint aimed at achieving cultural and social transformation in schools,” the document containing the new guidelines states. “The 2021 Model Policies also disregarded the rights of parents and ignored other legal and constitutional principles that significantly impact how schools educate students, including transgender students.”

The document also specifies that the new policies were created, in part, as a response to over 9,000 negative comments submitted to the Virginia Department of Education during the public comment period for the 2021 model policies. 

Under the 2022 model policies, teachers and school staff are required to refer to students only by the name and pronouns on their official record, unless otherwise instructed by a parent; students must only use restrooms and locker rooms that match their birth sex; and school staff is obligated to consult with parents before offering a student any counseling that encourages a gender identity that differs from the child’s biological sex.

“A child deserves to have a parent involved in their lives. Children don’t belong to the state, they belong to a family,” Youngkin posted on Twitter. “Parents matter. The Privacy, Dignity, and Respect policies are all about making sure kids are able to have parents involved and caring for them.”

While Virginia House Delegate Mike Mullin, a Democrat, calls the new guidelines “absolutely shameful,” others are happy to see a politician taking action to fulfill a campaign promise.

“It’s a really gratifying case of an elected official who ran for office promising to respect and defend parents’ rights … and is actually doing that,” said Meg Kilgannon, senior fellow for education studies at Family Research Council.

“… The people who have dubbed this policy a ‘parents’ rights manifesto’ are not exaggerating,” she added. “The document makes clear that parents are the primary educators of their children and schools cannot adopt gender affirming anything regarding a student without the parent’s permission. Over and over again, the requirement that parents be involved and fully informed is made abundantly clear.”

Nicole Neily, president and founder of Parents Defending Education, told Fox News Digital that gender issues in schools has become a “major flashpoint for families from coast to coast.”

“Polling consistently shows that when it comes to the topic of gender in schools, parents worry about fairness, safety and the preservation of parental rights—and that these concerns transcend both racial and political lines,” she explained. “ … Virginia has shown that it is listening to parents through its new proposed guidelines, and we are grateful for their responsiveness.” 

Public comment on the 2022 model policies will open Sept. 26.

Above: Then-gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin at a Loudoun Parents Matter rally in Leesburg, Virginia, on Nov. 1, 2021

Photo: Reuters/Elizabeth Frantz/Alamy

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