Among Northam’s policies, schools were required to allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice and use students’ preferred pronouns.
Youngkin called out Northam’s version for “disregarding the rights of parents” and ignoring “other legal and constitutional principles.”
“The 2021 Model Policies promoted a specific viewpoint aimed at achieving cultural and social transformation in schools,” the department wrote.
According to Equality Virginia, an LGBTQ advocacy group, only 10% of Virginia school boards implemented Northam’s controversial rules for how schools should educate transgender students. The low participation rate was indicative of the backlash the policies received from parents who mobilized in school boards.
Youngkin spokeswoman Macaulay Porter told CNA that “the previous policies implemented under the Northam administration did not uphold constitutional principles and parental rights, and will be replaced.”
“It is not under a school’s or the government’s purview to impose a set of particular ideological beliefs on all students. Key decisions rest, first and foremost, with the parents,” she said.
Porter added that Youngkin’s 2022 policy “delivers on the governor’s commitment to preserving parental rights and upholding the dignity and respect of all public school students.”
Parental rights in 2021 campaign
The issue of parental rights figured prominently in the 2021 gubernatorial race, and many credit it as the basis for Youngkin’s victory over Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe.
“I’m not going to let parents come into schools and actually take books out ... I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” McAuliffe said during a 2021 debate.
“I believe parents should be in charge of their kid’s education,” Youngkin replied.
(Story continues below)
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Virginia House Delegate Glenn Davis applauded the governor’s model policy Friday in a tweet, saying it fixed “one of the most overreaching and abusive uses of a ‘model policy.’”
“This new standard ensures all students have the right to attend school in an environment free from discrimination, harassment, and bullying,” Davis wrote.
LGBTQ activist groups are denouncing the move. The ACLU of Virginia took to Twitter last week saying it was “appalled by the Youngkin administration’s overhaul of key protections for transgender students in public schools.”
The official public comment period for Youngkin’s model policy is expected to open at the end of the month on the department’s website, when Virginians have 30 days to issue feedback.
After public comments are reviewed, the new standard goes into effect after the state superintendent issues final approval.
“Empowering parents is not only a fundamental right, but it is essential to improving outcomes for all children in Virginia,” the document reads.