Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, is reversing the state policy on how transgender students are treated in schools.
Republican-led states across the United States have been introducing laws targeting transgender youth, with more and more new laws against transgender youth piling up over the past several months. There have been more than 200 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced at the state level this year alone.
Virginia’s new guidelines pit the state at the center of a national battle over how transgender youth should be treated at school.
The Virginia Department of Education released its 2022 Model Policies, effectively rolling back the work of Youngkin’s predecessor, Democrat Ralph Northam.
The new rules will affect more than 1 million children enrolled in the state’s public school system. The revamped rules explicitly state that students must only use bathrooms and locker rooms associated with the sex assigned to them at birth.
If a student wants to participate in a sport or other extracurricular activities, they must, again, only participate in teams that align with the sex assigned at birth.
Furthermore, Virginia will no longer allow transgender kids to change names, even upon the written instruction of a parent or eligible student, without legal official documents or court orders. Teachers and other school officials can only refer to a student by their pronouns associated with their sex at birth.
And in addition to that, teachers can refuse to refer to students’ preferred names and pronouns regardless of paperwork. So even if the child has gone through a legal battle or changing their name, the teacher can choose to ignore this, if they feel doing so “would violate their constitutionally protected rights.”
Virginia now joins a growing number of state legislatures across the nation that have adopted new restrictions on gay and transgender students. Like Virginia, these policies often limit conversations about sexuality and gender identity in schools.