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Youngkin defends gender identity policies: 'Children don't belong to the state'

"The previous administration had a policy that excluded parents and, in fact, particularly didn't require the involvement of parents," Youngkin says of former Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam's transgender policies.

Published: October 10, 2022 12:23pm

Updated: October 10, 2022 6:44pm

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin defended his policy regarding gender identity rules for the public school system, saying children don't belong to the state.

Under the rules, student bathrooms and sports teams should be based on sex assigned at birth, not gender identity. Parental approval would be required if a student wants to change their name, according to the new policy. 

Youngkin ran for governor on implementing education policies that empower parents. 

CNN "State of the Union" host Jake Tapper asked Youngkin why he decided to take a one-size-fits all approach with his transgender policies, pointing out that Arlington public schools just outside of Washington D.C. might feel differently about gender identity issues compared to other parts of the state.

"Parents have a fundamental right to be engaged in their children's lives and, oh, by the way, children have a right to have parents engaged in their life. And we needed to fix a wrong. The previous administration had a policy that excluded parents and, in fact, particularly didn't require the involvement of parents," Youngkin said Sunday referring to former Democrat Gov. Ralph Northam's policies.

"Parents have this right and children don't belong to the state. They belong to families. And so, in these most important decisions, step one has to be to engage parents, not to the exclusion of a trusted teacher or an adviser, but to make sure that parents are involved in their children's lives," he added.

Youngkin argued that his gender polices aren't controversial.

"I just think the idea that we're going to have policies that exclude parents from their children's lives is something that I have been going to work on since day one. We campaigned on it," he said. "We empowered parents to make decisions with regards to masking in Virginia. We have empowered parents to make decisions with regards to curriculum that fits their families' decisions."

Tapper said the American Academy of Pediatrics found that "these kinds of laws can increase the risk of depression, anxiety, and even suicide among transgender youth."

In response, Youngkin said, "What we're not saying is that there is no accommodation. What we're saying is, parents have to be engaged in that decision. And if a child and their parent, along with administrators and teachers, choose to have accommodations for that child, they will be granted."

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