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Youngkin ‘divisive’ subjects tip line received complaints about LGBTQ topics

Spotsylvania County mother complained about ‘grooming’

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Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A Freedom of Information Act lawsuit that several media outlets filed has revealed Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s tip line about the teaching of “divisive” subjects in the state’s schools received hundreds of emails.

The Washington Post on Thursday reported complaints about LGBTQ students and topics in schools are among the emails received.

“These books are, in my opinion, making children desensitized to healthy sexual relationships and are grooming in nature,” said a Spotsylvania County mother. 

Other parents said they were concerned about gender identity being taught in schools.

Youngkin shortly after he took office in January announced the tip line to which parents could have used to report the teaching of “divisive” subjects. Youngkin during an appearance with John Fredericks on “Outside the Beltway with John Fredericks” earlier this year did not specifically say whether parents should report teachers who are teaching about LGBTQ issues.

Youngkin’s administration in September shut down the tip line.

The Post and other media outlets filed the FOIA lawsuit in April.

Youngkin claimed the tip line emails fell under the FOIA exemption for a governor’s “working papers and correspondence.” The hundreds of emails that were released were just a fraction of the total number of tips, since the media outlets suing for this information claimed that the exemption Youngkin used did not apply to the tip lines since those were shared with individuals outside of the governor’s office. 

The media outlets involved in this lawsuit include the Post, the Associated Press, NPR and NBC 4. 

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Virginia

Two lawsuits filed against Va. guidelines for transgender, nonbinary students

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin sought regulations

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(Bigstock photo)

The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia and a private law firm on Thursday filed two lawsuits against the state’s guidelines for transgender and nonbinary students.

One of the plaintiffs, a high school student in York County to whom the press release refers as “Jane Doe,” claims “at least one teacher refused to address by her correct first name.” The second plaintiff, “Lily Loe,” a middle school student in Hanover County, “is not allowed to participate in a girls’ sports team.”

“When you look at the ways that VDOE’s (Virginia Department of Education) model policies are hurting transgender and nonbinary students like our clients, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that their authors were purposefully trying to erase gender non-conforming students from the classroom,” said Andrew Ewalt, co-counsel and partner at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, which has an office in D.C. “That flouts both existing nondiscrimination law and the Virginia law that directed VDOE to develop model policies in the first place.”

The Virginia Department of Education last July announced the new guidelines for which Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin asked. 

Equality Virginia and other advocacy groups claim the guidelines, among other things, would forcibly out trans and nonbinary students. Arlington County Public Schools, Fairfax County Public Schools and Prince William County Schools are among the school districts that have refused to implement them. 

“It was clear since the day that he took office that Gov. Youngkin and his Department of Education would target LGBTQ+ Virginians and single out transgender and nonbinary students for discrimination, and now that some school boards are implementing and enforcing their model policies for public schools, it’s even more clear that the harm is real,” said Equality Virginia Executive Director Narissa Rahaman on Thursday in a statement. 

“We applaud the ACLU of Virginia for taking on these harmful policies and for fighting for the health and well-being of students,” added Rahaman. “We’re proud to work toward those goals, together.” 

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Virginia

Va. Senate committee approves marriage equality affirmation bill

State Del. Rozia Henson introduced House Bill 174

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Virginia Capitol (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Virginia Senate’s Courts of Justice Committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would affirm marriage equality in the state.

State Del. Rozia Henson (D-Prince William County) introduced House Bill 174. The Democratic-controlled Virginia House of Delegates last month approved the measure in a bipartisan vote.

“Virginia is for all lovers — and we’re going to keep it that way,” said the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia in a Valentine’s Day post on its X account.

Voters in 2006 approved an amendment to Virginia’s constitution that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

Same-sex couples have been able to legally marry in the state since 2014.

The General Assembly in 2021 approved a resolution that seeks to repeal the marriage amendment. It must pass in two successive legislatures before it can go to the ballot.

Democrats last November regained control of the House of Delegates. The party currently holds a 21-19 majority in the Senate.

The Senate Privileges and Elections Committee last month delayed consideration of state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria)’s resolution that seeks to repeal the amendment. 

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Virginia

Va. House of Delegates passes bill to expand bullying definition

Bisexual state Del. Joshua Cole introduced HB 536

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Virginia flag flies over the state Capitol. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Virginia House of Delegates on Friday approved a bill that would add sexual orientation, gender identity and expression to the state’s definition of bullying.

House Bill 536 passed in the Democrat-controlled chamber by a 53-43 vote margin. State Del. Joshua Cole (D-Fredericksburg), who is bisexual, introduced the measure.

“Above all else, our schools must be places where all students can feel safe, supported and free from bullying, and this new, important bill is a step in the right direction toward a more equitable and harassment-free future for all of Virginia’s students,” said Equality Virginia Executive Director Narissa Rahaman in a press release.

GLSEN Executive Director Melanie Willingham-Jaggers in the same press release cited their organization’s research that “has demonstrated that protecting LGBTQI+ children from violence and discrimination results in improved academic performance, a greater sense of belonging in the community and better mental health outcomes.” 

“We applaud the Virginia House of Delegates for passing legislation that includes LGBTQI+ students in the enumerated protections in school anti-bullying policies, while simultaneously rejecting extreme bills that infringe on the rights of transgender students,” said Willingham-Jaggers. “Thank you to the leaders in Virginia and across the country who are increasingly rejecting the politics of division and instead centering safer schools where children can learn and reach their full potential.”

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