LEESBURG, Va. — The potential changes to transgender policies in Virginia schools continue to be top of mind for a lot of parents and students in the Commonwealth.
Tuesday, WUSA9 had a chance to ask the governor directly about the changes that would require a parent to give consent for their child to change their name or use different pronouns. We also spoke with Del. Danica Roem, who says the governor doesn’t have the legal authority to implement said policy.
"I just believe that it's it's clear that children don't belong to the state, they belong to families,” Youngkin said.
After visiting with Leesburg voting officials, Governor Glenn Youngkin answered questions about what’s become a controversial policy impacting transgender students in the Commonwealth. The new model says students will have to use bathrooms based on their biological sex and students under 18, have to go by the name and pronouns in their official records unless a parent approves another. WUSA9 asked Youngkin directly, what does he say to a student who is trans and not supported by their family and school may have been one of the few safe spaces for them?
“I would say trust your parents. You know, at the moment when there are very difficult issues in families and challenging issues in families, families come together. And this is why parents, in fact, have a role in your children's lives,” Youngkin said.
But Delegate Danica Roem, who is the first-ever openly transgender delegate in the state and nation, said the governor doesn’t have the authority to make this mandate. Adding it also conflicts with the Virginia human rights act that was also amended in 2020.
"But there will be legal ramifications before the governor even has a chance to enforce these policies in schools. And the reason for that is that the governor does not have the authority to actually do what he's doing right now. The reality here is that the governor does not have the ability to usurp the authority of the Virginia General Assembly on this according to HB 145 that we passed in 2020," she said
But Youngkin stood firm on his stance.
When asked what he would say to young Virginians who are trying to find their own voices at a young age, the governor replied saying, "we've got to focus our attention on teaching children, how to in fact, critically understand what's happening around there."
The governor did not reply when asked how if the focus is on education, why have the policy?
The guidance is subject to a 30-day public comment period that opens later this month.
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