Fairfax Co. votes to formally oppose new student transgender policies

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s proposed policy changes for transgender students in schools saw more pushback Tuesday, with the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voting to formally oppose the idea.

The board voted to send a letter to the Virginia Department of Education claiming that the policies are discriminatory and would be “bad for business,” potentially causing companies to choose not to move to Virginia as a result.

Board members said the policies would “have a chilling effect on our continued ability to attract the world’s most innovative companies.”

Wednesday is the last day for the public to submit comments on the proposed policies, which would require parental signoff on the use of any name or pronoun other than what is in a student’s official record.

After the public comment period closes, the Virginia Department of Education plans to review the comments and may edit the guidelines before they are finalized by the state superintendent.

Even though Fairfax County and other jurisdictions in Northern Virginia have protested, Youngkin has made it clear that he expects all local school boards to adopt policies “consistent with” the education department’s model, in accordance with a 2020 state law.

“It’s the law,” Youngkin said in a recent interview with WTOP. “We can’t be in a moment where people can just pick the laws they want to abide by and the ones they don’t.”

Youngkin argued that the idea was “fundamentally rooted in re-establishing the role of parents in these most important decisions.”

The policies say that student participation in certain school programming and use of school facilities, such as bathrooms or locker rooms, should be based on their biological sex, with modifications offered only to the extent required under federal law.

It marks a sharp departure from the previous policies issued in 2021 during former Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration.

Those policies said schools should let students use names and gender pronouns that reflect their gender identity without “any substantiating evidence.”

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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