STATEMENT OF 4 PUBLIC EDUCATION REGARDING GOVERNOR YOUNGKIN’S ACTION AGAINST TRANSGENDER YOUTH AND FAMILIES
We strongly condemn the recent policy directive of Governor Youngkin’s Department of Education to reverse guidelines to protect and respect transgender youth. The new mandatory policy is designed to interfere with family dynamics, further harass, intimidate and undermine teachers and staff, and to place some of our most vulnerable children at greater risk. It is anti-family, anti-children, and anti-public school. This policy has the potential to damage long-developed relationships between families and schools during times when families and students need support. This is done to further the false narrative that schools are trying to take away parents’ rights.
The proposed policy follows a dangerous authoritarian pattern of this administration of seeking out potential conflicts in school communities, sensationalizing them, and then exploiting conflict to sow distrust and discord in our public school communities. This pattern is clearly aimed at popularizing Youngkin’s overarching mission to promote religious and secular charter and private schools at the expense of public education.
The proposed policy will significantly damage the relationship between teachers and vulnerable transgender youth, some of whom have no other adult in whom they can confide. The new regulations not only crush sensitive relationships within the school setting, but they pit students against teachers and teachers against parents. These model policies trammel on the personal rights of students while nullifying the legally protected gender identity rights of students, even if they have parental consent, absent a decision by a court. Any teacher who objects to the decision of a transgender student to be addressed by their chosen name or gender identity, is allowed to ignore the wishes of that student and their parents. Further, parents have no power to control the name requested of the transgender student, absent a court order.
This is not a “parents’ rights” issue as it is being advertised, but rather the extreme over-reach of an authoritarian governmental entity without the skills, training or empathy necessary to appropriately determine the best course of policies to protect and support children and their families. This is clear, since research consistently finds that affirming transgender student identity improves both their mental and academic outcomes. This model policy is designed to stigmatize transgender and non-binary students; rather than protecting parents rights; otherwise, it would not actively violate the rights of most parents of transgender students while endangering the smaller number of transgender students whose parents ignore or reject their gender identity. Research shows that rejection at home increases the rate of a transgender adolescent of suicidal ideation and homelessness.
We urge the public’s participation in condemning this action through the public comment period that begins on September 26th. However, of significant note is that the policy requires all school divisions to comply with the directive one month later, regardless of any information received during the comment period. This effectively eviscerates the value of public participation in our democracy.
This bald-faced attempt to override the legislation of a duly-elected General Assembly will not be tolerated in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
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