Steve Halber / AP
The administration of Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has proposed new policies for state schools on how they treat transgender students, including what bathrooms they can use and what pronouns they can use.
The Virginia Department of Education released its 2022 model policies online Friday, effectively rolling back the work of Democrat Ralph Northam, Youngkin’s predecessor. The new rules will affect more than one million children enrolled in the state’s public school system.
The amended rules clearly state that students should use only bathrooms and locker rooms assigned to the gender assigned at birth. If a student wishes to participate in a sport or other extra-curricular activities, he or she should again only participate in teams that align with the gender given at birth.
In addition, a student’s legal name and gender cannot be changed “even at the written instruction of a parent or eligible student” without an official legal document or court order. Teachers and other school officials may refer to a student only by their pronouns associated with their gender at birth. But they are not required to mention a student’s preferred names regardless of paperwork if they feel it “would violate their constitutionally protected rights.”
Virginia has now joined a growing number of state legislatures across the US that have adopted new restrictions on gay and transgender students. As in Virginia, these policies often Limit conversations about sexuality and gender identity in schools.
More than 200 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced at the state level this year alone, according to the LGBTQ rights group, Freedom for All Americans. Some go as far as to restrict access to gender-affirming medical care.
The Virginia Department of Education says the basis for these new rules is to support the “rights of parents” to determine their child’s exposure to LGBTQ issues.
The department says that by adopting these new standards, Virginia “affirms the rights of parents to govern how their children will be raised and educated. Empowering parents is not only a fundamental right, but in Virginia.” It is essential to improve outcomes for all children.”
The agency said the policies adopted under Northam’s leadership “promoted a distinctive approach aimed at achieving cultural and social change in schools.”
Democrats and advocacy groups have increasingly condemned the state’s Republican governor’s proposals.
Virginia Delegate Danica Rome, Democrat representing Prince William County, called youngqin For violation of human rights law of the state.
,[Youngkin’s] Court action must be taken under the Virginia Human Rights Act,” she tweeted this weekend.
The public can still comment on the draft model policies on the Virginia regulatory town hall website later this month.