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Va. rules commission objects to proposed revision of trans, nonbinary student protections

Party-line vote took place after public hearing

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Members of the Virginia Joint Commission on Administrative Rules on Monday voted to formally object Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s proposed revisions to guidelines for transgender and nonbinary students.

The Virginia Mercury reported all of the committee’s five Democratic members voted to object to Youngkin’s proposed revisions, while all four Republican committee members opted to support them. The commission will now send an objection letter to the Virginia Department of Education and the Virginia Registrar of Regulations.

Youngkin in September announced his plans to revise the guidelines that his predecessor, Democrat Ralph Northam, signed into law in 2020. The Joint Commission on Administrative Rules’ vote took place on the same day it held a hearing on the proposed policy revisions. 

Equality Virginia Executive Director Narissa Rahaman and state Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas) are among those who testified against them. Education Secretary Aimee Guidera spoke in favor.

“The policy was submitted for public comment and we are still reviewing those comments,” said Youngkin spokesperson Macaulay Porter in an email to the Washington Blade. “The governor does not support the commission’s decision.”

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Virginia

Va. Senate committee kills six anti-transgender bills

Democrats control chamber by 22-18 margin

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Virginia Senate Education Committee on Thursday killed six anti-transgender bills.

The committee rejected state Sen. Mark Peake (R-Lynchburg)’s Senate Bill 960, state Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Colonial Heights)’s Senate Bill 791 and state Sen. Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania County)’s Senate Bill 1203. All three measures would have banned transition-related health care for minors in Virginia.

The committee also killed state Sen. John Cosgrove (R-Chesapeake)’s Senate Bill 911, Reeves’ Senate Bill 1186 and Peake’s Senate Bill 962. The measures would have banned transgender athletes from school teams corresponding with their gender identity.

Equality Virginia in a tweet said committee members received more than 3,000 emails “in opposition” to the bills. The statewide advocacy group further noted 10 out of 12 anti-trans bills introduced during this year’s legislative session have been defeated.

“Thank you to everyone who has spoken up against these bills,” said Equality Virginia. “Virginia is remaining a better, more inclusive state because of your efforts.”

“The fight isn’t over,” added the advocacy group. “But we know Virginians will show up for trans youth, day after day.”

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Virginia

Youngkin makes additional appointments to Va. LGBTQ+ Advisory Board

Governor plans to revise transgender, nonbinary student guidelines

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

Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin on Friday announced the appointment of three people to the Virginia LGBTQ+ Advisory Board.

Youngkin named Kerry Flynn, Jason Geske and Collin J. Hite to the board.

Casey Flores, the president of Log Cabin Republicans of Richmond, in July resigned from the board before his tenure was to begin. The resignation came amid growing criticism over a series of anti-LGBTQ and misogynist comments he made against Vice President Kamala Harris and U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), among others.

Youngkin last month announced he plans to revise the Virginia Department of Education’s guidelines for transgender and nonbinary students. Thousands of high school students across Virginia on Sept. 27 walked out of class in protest of the planned revision.

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Virginia

Equality Virginia to track implementation of trans, nonbinary student protections

State Department of Education issued guidelines in 2020

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(Bigstock photo)

Equality Virginia on Thursday announced it will track whether school boards have implemented the Virginia Department of Education’s guidelines for transgender and nonbinary students.

Equality Virginia Executive Director Narissa S. Rahaman in a press release notes “almost half of Virginia’s K-12 students attend schools in divisions that have fully adopted VDOE’s model policies for the treatment of transgender students” since their issuance in 2020. 

“These policies, developed in accordance with evidence-based best practices, give teachers and administrators critical tools to create safe, inclusive and learning environments for all students,” said Rahaman. “School boards in every corner of our commonwealth have a unique and urgent opportunity to protect transgender students by adopting the model policies.”

Equality Virginia in its press release further noted the School Board Policy and Meeting Tracker will “provide parents, advocates and students information on local school board meetings, potential agenda items and opportunity for public comment, and whether the school district has adopted” the guidelines.

Thursday’s announcement coincides with continued challenges to the guidelines and ongoing efforts to curtail the rights of trans and nonbinary students in Virginia.

Virginia lawmakers earlier this year tabled two bills that would have eliminated the requirement for school districts to implement the guidelines.

The Hanover County School Board last month approved a policy that requires trans students to request permission to use school bathrooms consistent with their gender identity. GLSEN earlier this month sharply criticized Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin after he called for schools to out trans and gender nonconforming students to their parents.

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