State Watch

Youngkin defends transgender policies, executive order on ‘critical race theory’ at CNN town hall

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) defended his “model policies” on transgender students and his executive order banning “critical race theory” from public school education at a CNN town hall on Thursday.

Youngkin, who has fueled rumors of a potential 2024 presidential bid, has continued to emphasize education and “parents’ rights” during his first two years in the governor’s mansion after the issues helped boost him to victory in 2021.

The Virginia governor on Thursday night stood by the guidelines he released last fall that would require transgender students in the state to use school facilities and participate in programs matching the sex they were assigned at birth, as well as make it more difficult to change their name and gender at school.

“The heart of our policy is that parents should know what’s going on in their children’s lives and have a role,” Youngkin said on Thursday. “And when they do, then, in fact, they can tackle these difficult decisions together as a family.”

However, Youngkin also endorsed the need for gender-neutral bathrooms in response to a question from Niko, a 17-year-old transgender student from Arlington, Va.

“Look at me. I am a transgender man,” Niko said at the town hall. “Do you really think that the girls in my high school would feel comfortable sharing a restroom with me?”

Youngkin said it was most important for schools to “try very hard to accommodate students.”

“That’s why I have said many, many times, we just need extra bathrooms in schools,” he said. “We need gender-neutral bathrooms and so people can use the bathroom that they in fact are comfortable with.”

However, Youngkin also claimed that his position on transgender athletes, which would block transgender students from participating in sports that align with their identity, was not controversial.

“I don’t think that biological boys should be playing sports with biological girls,” he said, adding, “I think that’s pretty, that’s non-controversial and something that I think is pretty well understood.”

The Virginia governor also defended his executive order, issued on his first day in office, that blocked state public schools from teaching “inherently divisive concepts, including critical race theory.”

“CRT isn’t a class that’s taught. It’s a philosophy that’s incorporated in the curriculum,” Youngkin said on Thursday, appearing to acknowledge pushback from Virginia teachers who have said the theory is not taught in schools.

“The key point is how we teach it,” he added. “We need to teach it honestly and transparently, but we shouldn’t teach it with judgment.”

Tags Critical race theory Glenn Youngkin Glenn Youngkin transgender youth Virginia

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