Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) refused to cave Sunday when CNN anchor Jake Tapper challenged the fairness of a new regulations that protect the rights of parents.
What is the background?
Last month, Youngkin issued new rules mandating that students must use bathrooms and pronouns that correspond to their biological sex. They are also required to play on sports teams with members of their biological sex.
Importantly, the rules do not exclude transgender students — or anyone protected by federal law — from living out their identity. The emphasis of the rules, which overturn progressive regulations enacted by Democrats and former Gov. Ralph Northam (D), is the protection of parental rights. The previous rules, in fact, directed schools to decide on a “case-by-case” basis whether to share information with parents regarding this issue.
Under the new rules, transgender students can live out their gender identity at school only if their parents have formally requested it.
Importantly, the rules also emphasize protection of First Amendment rights:
The First Amendment forbids
government actors to require individuals to adhere to or adopt any particular ideological
beliefs. Practices such as compelling others to use preferred pronouns is premised on the
ideological belief that gender is a matter of personal choice or subjective experience, not
sex. Many Virginians reject this belief. Additionally, the First Amendment guarantees
religious freedom and prohibits compelling others to affirm ideas that may be contrary to
their personal religious beliefs.
What happened with Tapper?
Questioning Youngkin on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Tapper advanced a fallacious argument: The new rules excludes people.
After noting that the “American Academy of Pediatrics says these kinds of laws can increase the risk of depression, anxiety, and even suicide among transgender youth,” Tapper told Youngkin that “it sounds like you’re excluding parents that might be supportive of their child going to the bathroom or joining a sports team that is in alignment with their gender identity.”
But Youngkin swiftly shot down Tapper’s claim.
“Certainly not. If parents actually want their child to be able to change a pronoun or their name or use a bathroom, if parents choose that, then, legally, that’s what the schools will do,” Youngkin explained.
Tapper presses GOP governor on policies for transgender students
The entire point of the rule change, Youngkin earlier explained, was “to fix a wrong,” namely those progressive rules enacted by Virginia Democrats.
“Parents have a fundamental right to be engaged in their children’s lives,” he said.
“And oh, by the way, children have a right to have parents engaged in their life,” Youngkin continued. “We needed to fix a wrong. The previous administration had had a policy that excluded parents and, in fact, particularly didn’t require the involvement of parents.
“Let’s be clear: Parents have this right — and children don’t belong to the state,” the governor declared.
The rules will take effect after a 30-day public commenting period, which opened on Sept. 26.
“It is not under a school’s or the government’s purview to impose a set of particular ideological beliefs on all students,” said Youngkin press secretary Macaulay Porter last month.
“Key decisions rest, first and foremost, with the parents,” Porter added. “The previous policies implemented under the Northam administration did not uphold constitutional principles and parental rights, and will be replaced.”