Glenn Youngkin transgender policy sparks controversy


Conner Smith protesting Glenn Youngkin’s new transgender student policies at a Hayfield walkout. (Maya Blackston)

Andrew Banocy, Editor-in-Chief

Glenn Youngkin announced in mid-September that he is aiming to roll back the rights of transgender students in Virginia schools. The proposed policy would require students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their assigned sex, along with schools requiring parental consent to make alterations to a student’s preferred name and pronouns.

These regulations will likely have a monumental impact on Virginia students who identify as transgender. Not only may they feel as though their identities do not matter to others, they may also be endangered. If a teacher is required to share information on a student’s gender identity with parents, then students may face major repercussions at home based on the ideologies of the parents.

The policies instantly sparked a controversy throughout a multitude of Northern Virginia schools, with a plethora of organized walkouts being staged on September 23rd, 2022. Hayfield, often accoladed as the most diverse public high school in Fairfax County, is expected to be heavily affected by the implemented measures. At 2:20, hundreds of students flooded the halls as they made their way to the football stadium to make their voices heard in protest. Led by a bellowing group in the upper half of the bleachers, Hayfield students joined together to make their thoughts known.

Hayfield students gathered for an organized walkout in late September. (Maya Blackston)

Students wielded signs reading “Respect Trans Rights”, “Trans Rights Are Human Rights”, and “I Should Be In Class, Not Fighting For My Safety”, and bellowed chants and speeches at the top of their lungs.
Students attending Hayfield’s walkout had a resounding group opinion, with many feeling a strong opposition to the ideals of the governor. Senior Meredyth Walker was one of them, believing that the policies are unjust and unnecessary.

“I don’t think it’s a good thing,” Walker said. “I think people should be able to express themselves and how they feel, especially in the community of our school. They’re there most of the time [during their day], so not having that right isn’t fair.”

Walker also commented on how the Hayfield community will be affected, along with what needs to be done in response.

“I think this is going to bring our community together,” Walker said. “I think it’ll bring a positive light to Hayfield and keep us going as a community that can express itself the way it wants. I don’t think we should have to change who we are and students should have their rights given to them.”

Similar thoughts resonated in others.

“I think it’s dumb that we even have to do this,” senior John Holland said of the walkout. “It really should never have come to this. Glenn Youngkin needs to do better.”

Junior Jasper Harris-Edwards felt the same, particularly concerning gender-specific school facilities.
“I think it’s a good topic to walk out on,” Harris-Edwards said. “People should be allowed to use whichever bathroom aligns with the gender they identify with.”

A public comment period was implemented to last until October 26, at which point the policies were planned to roll into schools. The state of Virginia has had these comment periods before on other controversial topics, with 9,086 comments being made under the previous Governor Northam. By October 2, 2022, there were already over 54,000.
On October 17, acting principal Matthew Mough commented on the measures that both Hayfield and Fairfax County Public Schools are taking in response to Youngkin’s policy alterations.

“In addition to Superintendent Reid’s message to the community regarding the topic, FCPS high school principals issued a joint statement voicing support for all of our students and affirming who they are,” Mough said. “Currently, we are awaiting further guidance as the comment period comes to a close and FCPS makes further decisions on how to proceed. We will always stand ready to support our students and who they are.”

In the days following the comment period, an October 28 30-day pushback was declared by the Virginia Department of Education, delaying the measures as they are reviewed regarding comments stating that they contradict previously implemented state laws. The governor stated that he will be working closely with the department to ensure every school district abides by his laws as soon as possible.

Despite these acts of severe pushback from Virginia students, faculty, and counties alike, Governor Youngkin and the Virginia Office of the Attorney General both have plans to continue adamantly pushing his legislation towards public schools across the state, however it is unsure how he will enforce them.