LEESBURG — With snap voting in the congressional and local elections looming, Gov. Glenn Youngkin on Tuesday shone a spotlight on Virginia’s “safe and secure” election process while defending a new election guard that Attorney General Jason Miyares created in response to the political outcry on the 2020 presidential results.
But the election message was overshadowed by questions about the best school policy that Youngkin’s Department of Education quietly issued late Friday to reverse policies introduced by his Democratic predecessor, Gov. Ralph Northam, to protect transgender students.
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The new model guidelines for local school boards require students to use bathrooms that match the gender they were assigned at birth “except to the extent federal law dictates otherwise.” The new model guidelines also specify that student participation in school sports and activities must be based on “biological sex” and requires parental consent for changes to a student’s name, including the use of pronouns.
“We want to respect all students. We want to respect their privacy, their dignity and their safety,” Youngkin said Tuesday.
“And second, we want to reaffirm the fact that parents have a role to play in their children’s lives. And when these important decisions are made, parents should be informed and involved.”
Youngkin was asked what he would say to transgender students concerned about lack of support at home.
“I would say trust your parents,” Youngkin said. “The moment there are very difficult problems in families – challenging problems in families – families come together. And that’s why parents actually play a role in their children’s lives.”
After touring the Loudoun County Department of Elections office, Youngkin advocated the integrity of Virginia’s electoral system but supported Miyares, his Republican running mate in last fall’s state election, for the creation of a task force, in the words of the attorney general – “to restore confidence in our democratic process in the Commonwealth.”
“I don’t see why anyone would be upset that our attorney general is acknowledging that people have concerns,” Youngkin said outside the Loudoun polling station. “People have concerns about the electoral process.”
The Youngkin administration lifts protections for transgender students
“I don’t think there are any problems with the Attorney General’s Election Integrity Task Force, and I actually think it’s a good thing,” he said.
Youngkin’s appearance was part of an all-day switch that included a brief campaign stop in Ashburn for Republican congressional candidate Hung Cao, who is seeking to unseat Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D-10, in November’s midterm elections. The 10th is based in Loudoun and Prince William counties.
The governor was also scheduled to appear at a private political fundraiser on Tuesday night.
Early voting in Virginia’s general election begins Friday, and Republicans are trying to focus voters’ attention on inflation, crime and education under President Joe Biden and a Democratic Congress. Democrats are raising concerns about Republican attacks on abortion rights and the Democratic process after supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 to prevent Congress from confirming Biden’s election as president.
Standing in the produce department of an Asian market, Youngkin urged the 10th Ward voters to elect Cao, a Vietnamese immigrant and retired US Navy captain, “so that he can get to work to bring down inflation “. The statement, filmed with Cao at his side and Asian shoppers in the background, will fuel campaign ads to help the Republican in a redrawn suburban district that aligns with Democrats.
The governor also hinted that he might lend a helping hand in races for Loudoun County school board seats, a prime target of his anger at school safety and policies that emphasize racial justice and the rights of transgender students.
The culture wars raging over the Loudoun school board played a large part in Youngkin’s successful gubernatorial campaign — though former governor Terry McAuliffe beat him there by about 18,000 votes — and as governor, Youngkin tried unsuccessfully to force all members of the board to vote for one to run for re-election. election this year. The Virginia Senate rejected his bill in late April.
At a back-to-school rally last month in Annandale, Fairfax County, the governor focused more on local school boards and education policy than the midterm congressional elections, though Cao and two other Republican congressional candidates attended the rally.
The Hanover community remains concerned about transgender policies
“School boards are very important,” Youngkin replied Tuesday when asked if he would support candidates in the Loudoun school board races.
“I think we will review it further and make some decisions shortly,” he said.
Youngkin did not address questions raised by some law professors about the legality of his new model school policies, such as whether they may conflict with federal law protecting the rights of transgender students or require General Assembly approval.
He instead focused on the role he felt parents should play in such discussions involving their children.
Youngkin noted that a 30-day public comment on the proposed policies will begin on September 26, and that local school boards will “follow their specific policies based on this model policy.”
He acknowledged that teachers and school counselors could be involved, but said “parents should come first.”
In response to students’ concerns about their safety from involving parents in these discussions, Youngkin said, “I would find it very difficult to argue that a parent interfering in a child’s life is inconsistent with that child’s safety.” is.”
However, he said that under the model guidelines, if a parent is involved and gives approval to the school, “placements will be made for that child”.
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