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Va. House passes two anti-transgender bills

Measures likely to die in Democratic-controlled state Senate

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Republican-controlled Virginia House of Delegates on Tuesday approved two anti-transgender bills.

State Del. Karen Greenhalgh (R-Virginia Beach)’s House Bill 1387, which would ban trans athletes from school sports teams that correspond with their gender identity, passed by a 51-47 vote margin. State Del. Dave LaRock (R-Loudoun County)’s House Bill 2432, which would require school personnel to out trans students to their parents, passed by a 50-48 vote margin.

“We are dealing with forcibly outing kids regardless of the safety of their home,” said state Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas) on Monday when she spoke against HB 2432. “You have no idea of the harm you’re causing. Do better for them.”

Roem, who is the first openly trans woman seated in a state legislature in the U.S., also spoke against HB 1387 on the House floor.

Equality Virginia and the Human Rights Campaign are among the groups that condemned the bills’ passage.

“It can be hard for people to understand what it means to be a transgender or nonbinary young person if they’ve never met one. But trans and nonbinary young people are our friends, family members and neighbors, and like all young people, they deserve safe and inclusive learning environments where they can thrive and be supported as they are,” said Kasey Suffredini, vice president of advocacy and government affairs at the Trevor Project, in a statement. “These bills would only contribute to further isolation and stigma at a time when trans young people are already struggling.”

The two bills will now go before the Democratic-controlled Virginia Senate.

The Senate Education Committee last week killed six measures that would have banned transition-related health care for minors in Virginia and prevented trans athletes from school teams that correspond with their gender. It is likely HB 1387 and HB 2432 will meet a similar fate.

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Virginia

Former Log Cabin Republicans executive director named to Va. LGBTQ+ Advisory Board

R. Clarke Cooper ‘proud to accept’ Youngkin’s appointment

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R. Clarke Cooper (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has named former Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper to the Virginia LGBTQ+ Advisory Board.

“Proud to accept appointment from Gov. Glenn Youngkin to serve on the Virginia LGBTQ+ Advisory Board,” wrote Cooper in a post on his LinkedIn page. “Every citizen of the commonwealth has God given inalienable rights, envoys individual liberty and is charged with individual responsibility.”

“May Virginians judge our neighbors on the content of their character, not by their sexual orientation,” he added.

Youngkin announced Cooper’s appointment on March 10.

Cooper, an Army Reserve officer who served in the Iraq War, as Log Cabin Republicans’ executive director from 2010-2012. 

He was Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs from 2019-2021. Cooper is currently a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.

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Virginia

Va. education superintendent resigns

Jillian Balow tenure coincided with proposed revisions to trans, nonbinary student guidelines

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Jillian Balow (Public domain photo via Virginia Department of Education)

The Virginia Department of Education’s Superintent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow resigned last week.

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin last January appointed Balow, who had previously been Wyoming’s State Superintent for Public Education, to the position before he took office.

The Washington Post reported Balow in her March 1 resignation letter said she was “grateful and humbled” to have been appointed. Youngkin, for his part, thanked Balow for “her work in advancing the governor’s education agenda to empower parents and restore excellence in education.”

Youngkin last September announced plans to revise the guidelines for transgender and nonbinary students that his predecessor, Democrat Ralph Northam, signed into law in 2020. The Virginia Joint Commission on Administrative Rules late last year voted to formally object to Youngkin’s proposal that has yet to be implemented.

The Post noted Balow during her tenure faced questions over efforts to revise Virginia’s history and social studies curriculum standards, among other things.

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Virginia

All 12 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced during Va. legislative session die

Democrat-controlled state Senate blocked all measures

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Virginia General Assembly’s 2023 legislative session ended on Saturday without any of the 12 anti-LGBTQ bills that lawmakers introduced becoming law.

Republican lawmakers introduced measures that would have, among other things, banned transgender athletes from school teams that correspond with their gender identity and would have required school personnel to out trans students to their parents. Other bills sought to ban transition-related health care for minors in the state.

All of the measures died in the Democrat-controlled Virginia Senate.

“This session, 12 anti-LGBTQ+ bills in the Virginia legislature targeted young people — specifically trans and nonbinary youth — further stigmatizing them at home, at school and in their communities. Schools should be safe spaces for all youth, and especially those who may face discrimination or feel singled out because of who they are. But, we saw a groundswell of opposition to these bills. We saw everyday Virginians show up in fierce opposition to all twelve bills and send a message that hate is not a Virginia value,” Equality Virginia Executive Director Narissa S. Rahaman told the Washington Blade on Monday in a statement. “To the trans youth in the commonwealth, I want to say: You are loved, you are perfect just the way you are, you are beautiful and you are worthy. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. While we have a long way to go to make our schools more equitable places for all youth, defeating these bills is a big deal.” 

The Virginia House Amendment and Other Matters Subcommittee on Feb. 17 tabled state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria)’s resolution that sought to repeal the state constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. The openly gay Alexandria Democrat’s bill that would have made affirmed marriage equality in Virginia did not advance in the Republican-controlled House of Delegates.

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