The public has only a few days left to comment on Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s proposed policy changes for transgender students in schools, and Youngkin is making it clear that he expects school systems to follow the changes once they are finalized.
“It’s the law,” Youngkin said in an 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.”
The new guidelines would require parental signoff on the use of any name or pronoun other than what is in a student’s official record.
Youngkin said the idea was “fundamentally rooted in re-establishing the role of parents in these most important decisions.”
The guidelines 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.
Public comments are being accepted through Wednesday, October 26.
After that, the Virginia Department of Education plans to review the comments and may edit the guidelines before they are finalized by the state superintendent.
Youngkin said he then expects local school boards to adopt policies that are “consistent with” the education department’s model, in accordance with a 2020 state law.
Some public school systems, including those in Fairfax County and Alexandria, have vowed to ignore the policy changes, and it is not clear what, if anything, the Youngkin administration can do to force them to change their minds.
When asked about it, Youngkin only said that “this is a time for us to recognize laws are on the books for reasons and we need to abide by them.”
Youngkin’s proposed changes led to protests, with student activists holding a number of school walkouts claiming that the new guidelines are harmful and discriminatory to transgender students.
The guidelines mark a sharp departure from the previous policy issued in 2021 during former Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration.
That policy said that schools should let students use names and gender pronouns that reflect their gender identity without “any substantiating evidence.”
Hear the full interview with Governor Youngkin on the DMV Download podcast:
The Associated Press contributed to this report.