Wexton, Spanberger speak truth to Youngkin on anti-trans school policies
The bipartisan monthly meeting between Gov. Glenn Youngkin and Virginia’s congressional delegation this week got heated when Democrats Jennifer Wexton and Abigail Spanberger brought up Youngkin’s proposed anti-trans school policies, and Republican Bob Good defended the policies by claiming that schools and teachers are “grooming” children to change their gender.
“That’s not f—ing true,” Spanberger said, according to reporting by the Washington Post.
The issue came up against a backdrop of the Virginia Department of Education, at Youngkin’s direction, releasing rewritten “model policies” for the treatment of transgender students earlier this month that would roll back equal protections for trans students enacted under former Gov. Ralph Northam.
The Youngkin “model policies” define a transgender student as “a public-school student whose parent has requested in writing, due to their child’s persistent and sincere belief that his or her gender differs from his or her sex, that their child be identified while at school.”
The proposed policies state that 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, and 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.”
The legality of the “model policies” is at question, with recent court decisions, including a 2020 United States Supreme Court ruling written by Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch, and another 2020 ruling from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in a Virginia case, have upheld protections for transgender people and trans students.
In the Virginia case, the appeals court ruled in favor of former Gloucester County high school student Gavin Grimm, deciding that restroom policies segregating transgender students from their peers are unconstitutional and violate Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education.
The Supreme Court declined to take up the Grimm case on appeal.
Wexton, at this week’s meeting with Youngkin and members of the congressional delegation, addressed concerns about the proposed policies’ impact on the mental health of transgender students, citing CDC data that has showed that about 2 percent of high school students identify as transgender, and 35 percent of those have attempted suicide.
Wexton, who has a transgender niece, has publicly called the policy “a vile and disgusting attack on vulnerable trans kids” of which Youngkin “should be ashamed.”
Spanberger and Democrat Don Beyer, according to the Post report, reinforced the concerns raised by Wexton about higher risks of suicide among trans students, and concerns about the constitutionality of the policies and the impact of the policies on the business climate.
This was when Good, a Liberty University alum who was an associate athletics director at his alma mater before winning the Fifth District seat in 2020, chimed in with his claim that teachers and schools are “grooming” children to change their gender, that children are being forced into gender transitions, and that “the fact that these kids are killing themselves is because of grooming,” according to the Post.
It was at this point, according to the Post report, that Spanberger told Good, “That’s not f—ing true.”