VA Gov Glenn Youngkin Loves ‘Parental Rights’ Except When Parents Love, Support Their Trans Kids

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin won office in 2021 by running on a School Panic platform — Critical Race Theory! Trans Kids Peeing in Bathrooms! Sex Books! — so as promised, late last week his administration rolled out new rules sharply restricting the rights of transgender students in Virginia schools, in the name of “parental rights,” of course. The new policies proposed by the Virginia Department of Education largely reverse the trans-friendly education policies put in place by former Gov. Ralph Northam, banning trans kids from using restrooms or locker rooms that fit their gender identity and requiring them to participate only on sports teams that match the sex on their birth certificate.

The rules extend even to what names and pronouns students will be allowed — parental rights or not! — because damned if they deserve even that small shred of dignity, as NPR reports:

Further, the legal name and sex of a student can’t be changed “even upon written instruction of a parent or eligible student” without an official legal document or court order. Teachers and other school officials can only refer to a student by their pronouns associated with their sex at birth. But they also don’t have to refer to a student’s preferred names regardless of paperwork if they feel doing so “would violate their constitutionally protected rights.”

As we all know, this nation was founded on the inalienable right to deadname children.

What’s more, schools will be required to out trans students to their parents, and to allow parents to veto any counseling services regarding gender identity students may request. Yes, even if a student comes out to a teacher or counselor in confidence; the guidelines are clear that schools may not “encourage or instruct teachers to conceal material information about a student from the student’s parent, including information related to gender.”

That’s a complete reversal of the guidance under Northam’s administration, which said that schools should consider sharing information on a student’s expressed gender identity on a “case-by-case” basis, keeping in mind the health and safety of students. No such protections in the new guidelines: Parents must be informed, so schools won’t hide information even from bigoted parents who feel the need to exercise their right to beat the shit out of their kids, disown them, and lock them out of the house.

The new guidelines do not say anything about protecting trans kids from a potentially abusive parent, apart from a single section restating Virginia law — with an incorrect link in the guidelines, no less — on addressing students at risk of suicide: Schools don’t have to contact a parent if a suicide threat is due to parental abuse or neglect. Nonsuicidal kids will have to take their chances.

(As ever, If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988. You don’t have to be suicidal to call and talk to a counselor.)

In a triumph of Orwellian doublespeak, the “model policies” document claims the guidelines cover the “Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for All Students and Parents.” At least, for a certain subset of “All.” In a statement, Youngkin spokesperson Macaulay Porter similarly insisted that the model policy delivers on the governor’s commitment to “preserving parental rights and upholding the dignity and respect of all public school students,” except for the freaky perverts we guess.

The guidelines do at least state that bullying of trans kids is not to be tolerated — apart of course from the right of teachers and staff to use the wrong names and pronouns for kids because Jesus says they must. The guidelines even generously suggest that schools accommodate the needs of trans students, “taking into account the resources and staff available,” in case administrators are looking for an excuse not to. Why, the document even says schools “should” make separate single-user restrooms and other facilities available to trans students — though again, that’s not “must.”

The new guidelines immediately drew criticism from progressives, LBGTQ+ groups, and civil rights activists, who share the nutty idea that this is just one more political attack on trans kids, regardless of how many times the guidelines claim not to discriminate. Mike Mullin, a Democratic member of the House of Delegates, said on Twitter,

Trans kids deserve to learn and thrive in an environment free of bullying, intimidation, and fear. That means being addressed as who they are and supported for who they will be. Especially from their teachers and their administrators.

Thank goodness a bunch of bigots replied with tweets calling him a groomer.

The ACLU of Virginia similarly tweeted that it was “appalled” by the policies, warning that

LGBTQ+ students already experience much higher self-harm & suicide rates because of the discrimination they face. This will only make matters worse.

The group added that “‘Parental rights’ does not mean a license to target and harm children” and said that ACLU is “still reviewing the proposal and will have more to say in the days to come.”

The policy document will be subject to a 30-day public comment period starting later this month (it’s not yet listed for comment, but that’s the link once it goes up) after which the state education department will review the comments and formalize the rules. Then the lawsuits to block the stupid thing can start.

[NPR / NYT / CNBC / 2022 Model Policies / Photo: Glenn Youngkin (cropped), Creative Commons License 2.0]

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