Youngkin: Virginia districts 'really don't have a choice' in school transgender policy

Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin said Thursday that local school districts “don’t really have a choice” in adopting his administration’s new model policies for the treatment of transgender students, warning that remaining holdouts are putting themselves in legal jeopardy.

“There’s no decision to be made here,” Youngkin said Thursday during an appearance on Fox News’s “America Reports.” “Our law is crystal clear.”

The Youngkin administration’s model policies, which were introduced last September and finalized last month, allow teachers and students at Virginia K-12 schools to misgender a transgender student by using the name and pronouns associated with their sex assigned at birth, rather than their gender identity.

They also prohibit teachers from referring to a student using a different name or pronoun without written permission from the student’s parent and prevent transgender students from competing on school sports teams that match their gender identity. Parents must be notified if a transgender student at their child’s school is able to use the restroom and locker room that differs from their sex assigned at birth.

Local school boards are responsible for adopting the framework in ways “that are consistent with but may be more comprehensive than the model policies,” according to guidance released by Virginia’s Education Department. But while school boards with conservative majorities have largely voted to adopt the administration’s policies, more liberal districts have rejected them.

Northern Virginia school districts including Loudoun County Public Schools, Arlington Public Schools and Fairfax County Public Schools — the largest district in the state — have all vowed not to enforce the model policies, alleging they violate federal and state nondiscrimination laws.

Two Virginia Beach parents sued their local school district last week over its refusal to adopt the policies.

Youngkin said Thursday he was not surprised that a lawsuit had been filed against the district and commended the parent plaintiffs for “standing up for their children’s rights and their rights as parents.” He did not say whether the state plans to join the lawsuit.

It is still unclear how the governor’s administration will enforce the adoption of the model policies in schools that still refuse to do so. Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares (R) stated in an opinion issued last month at Youngkin’s request that “school boards across the Commonwealth should support and implement” the policies.

“It’s not just common sense, it’s the law,” he wrote.

Youngkin, citing Miyares’s opinion, said Thursday that resistant school districts could face legal retribution from the state.

“There’s not a choice to be made by these counties and, in fact, now they are all being clearly brought out in legal jeopardy and liability,” Youngkin told “America Reports” co-anchors Sandra Smith and John Roberts. “They’re liable personally and as boards, and this will play itself out in the court system.”

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