Students Protest Against Youngkin’s Proposed Policy on Trans Students

Thousands of students in Virginia schools staged a walk out on September 27th to protest Governor Glenn Youngkin’s rewrite on model policies for the treatment of transgender students. The policy was posted online on Sept. 16, weeks after classes started. The policy states that students can only use facilites according to sex assigned at birth. It also forbids trans and non-binary students from changing their name and pronouns without parental consent. The policy also discourages teachers from concealing the gender identity of students from parents, regardless of the harm that it could pose to the child.


Republicans and socially conservative activists praised the policy change, saying it would “restore parental rights”. Democrats and LGBTQ+ activists slammed the policy change, saying it would put trans and non-binary students at more risk, citing the high rate of suicide amongst LGBTQ+ youth. Youngkin’s office denied this and claimed that trans and nonbinary students would still be protected from harassment under the new guidelines. The Virginia branch of the American Civil Liberties Union said they were “appalled” by the decision and plans to possibly challenge the policy should it be accepted by the Virginia Department of Education.


Many blame the fact these policies were adopted on the rise of anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric across the nation. Some say this is Governor Youngkin’s attempt to build a national image among conservative Republicans as there is a strong likelihood that he will make a run for the presidency in 2024. Youngkin himself was not in Virginia on the day of the walk outs, he was in Alpharetta, Georgia campaigning for Republicans in that state. 


Following the policy announcements, student organizers across the state began to organize walk outs for Sept. 27. Students, staff, and others gathered outside their schools, waving pride flags, holding signs, and chanting things like, “Trans Rights are Human RIghts” and “D-O-E. Leave Us Be!”.


 Many transgender students expressed frustation at the policy, one student in Fairfax County told NBC, “Trans students are students just like everybody else. We don’t want to be out here fighting for our rights and protesting — we want to be in calculus class and learning how to drive. But, instead, we have to be here, because they’re trying to take away our rights.” 


The Governor’s guidelines are subject to a 30-day public comment period. Over 18,000 have been submitted.