Youngkins’s new transgender student policies unacceptable


Photo by Kobina Asafu-Adjaye

As a result of Youngkin’s new policy, transgender students are forced to use bathrooms for the birth-assigned gender.

Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) of Virginia recently released a pollicy draft that harms transgender and gender non-comforming students of his state. This policy directly targets their rights, requiring their educators to out them, making it hard for them to change their names and pronouns, and to play with the sports team of their assigned gender at birth. This bill will set U.S. LGBTQ+ rights backwards and endanger the wellbeing of Virginian students.

The worst part of this new policy is the forced outing of trans students. Many students use school as a safe space to get away from unsupportive families and be who they truly are. It has been proven in the past that people who identify as transgender are more likely to feel unsafe or unaccepted at home than other LGBTQIA+ groups, making schools an imperative environment for transgender students to feel safe. School is incredibly important, providing students the opportunity to join pride clubs and tell teachers what they would prefer to be called. To take away that space is downright cruel. While the policy does not outlaw groups such as SAGA’s or GSA’s, it does make it hard for them to function in a way that actually protects their members.  Freshman Maia Inati said “Richard Montgomery has done a very good job of making accommodations and safe spaces for LGBTQ+ people in a way that’s kind of unobtrusive and doesn’t feel like they’re going out of their way.” Inati also said, “having clubs like SAGA and stressing that you’re not supposed to out anyone, which I mean goes without saying, but it’s nice to have it laid out that this is a safe space for us to be ourselves with no expectations and there’s no danger.”

Another part of the policy requires transgender athletes to play on the sports team of their assigned gender at birth. While this part of the bill is not entirely unreasonable, sports should be something to be enjoyed by all.  Denying somebody an opportunity to play a sport, simply because of gender (a lot of sports at RM are even coed) is antithetical to the very existence of high school sports.  

Another part of the policy doesn’t allow transgender students to be referred to with their chosen name and pronouns without filling out legal documents. When a non-cisgender person is called by their chosen names and correct pronouns, it gives them sheer euphoria. Inati said “[people calling me by the wrong pronouns] makes me feel like I have to hide something from them. [When someone uses the correct pronouns] I feel like I’m being genuinely myself in a way that I can’t be if they don’t know this.” It is basic human decency to be called your preferred name and correct pronouns, and Virginia’s refusal to do so is incredibly disrespectful. It should not be so difficult for students to be called by their preferred names and pronouns as they have the same inherent rights as cisgender students. 

The impact of this heart-breaking policy is sure to be felt. Freshman Taylor Morrison said that “[t]he fact that you literally have to out your own child and make them feel uncomfortable and unsafe in a place that’s supposed to be welcoming is horrible.” In regards to the future of Virginia’s attitude towards the LGBTQIA+ community, she said, “it’ll probably get worse.”

On September 27th, students stood up to protest against Governor Younkin’s discriminatory policy. Over a thousand Virginia students from over a hundred schools walked out of school in protest with the help of the Pride Liberation Project. Some schools, such as McLean High School, supported students in their decision to walk out. The inspiring support of these schools reflects the rightful opposition the policy is receiving, showing the immense harm that will result from its implementation. Spanish teacher Jason Colchao said “[the walkout] is amazing” and that it “means that youth in Virginia is active just like here in Maryland and that they are fighting for their rights.” He also said the policy is “not something that Gen Z or Millenials will stand for.” 

Students have shown that they do not stand for this policy, both in Virginia and Maryland. Morrison says “it’s a horrible thing to do,” calling the policy “very transphobic and just genuinely uncaring and unloving.” In response to the walkout, Morrison said “it’s really good that they did that.” The way Virginian schools are standing together is a ray of light in this dark time. It shows how even in this time of sorrow, the Virginian students will stand together and for what is right. It’s heartening how the Virginian students are willing to stand up for their rights no matter what. 

Virginia’s draconian new bill will be detrimental to kids Virginia claims to protect.  This bill and similar bills across the country will create an unsafe learning environment for non-cisgender kids, strip them of their freedoms, and discourage them from participating in activities.  It is important that Maryland and Montgomery County Public Schools continue to protect their students’ rights.  Feeling safe and comfortable in school is a fundamental right and one that should be protected.