Youngkin defends new policies for Virginia Department of Education
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Governor Glenn Youngkin is on the defense of his new policies for the Virginia Department of Education model, which sharply restricts transgender student rights.
Youngkin says parents should not be left out of these life changes. He says these policies will bring parents to the forefront of matters concerning their children.
Many disagree, saying that would be harmful.
Public comment just opened on these model policies on Monday and there are already more than 5,000 comments, many of which are strongly opposed.
Some go as far as saying this will kill trans students.
"The base argument here is whether parents should be involved in these important life decisions or not," said Youngkin.
The guidelines in his administration's new Department of Education model say parents will be told about their child's sexual orientation or gender identity, even if the student wants it confidential.
"I can't begin to see why someone would advocate for excluding a parent from these most important decisions and that's why these model policies are important,” Youngkin said.
State Delegate Sally Hudson says these policies have real consequences.
"Roughly 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBT because some parents don't welcome their child when they're out," she said.
It's not just a homelessness issue. LGBTQ+ youth are four-to-six times more likely to attempt suicide because of things like bullying and stigma, according to the Youth Risk and Behavior Surveillance system.
"Some kids feel more comfortable talking with a trusted adult in a school for example and these policies would require that schools force parental involvement even when kids may not feel it's safe,” Hudson said.
While Hudson says these policies are harmful, Youngkin says there are safety policies in place.
"If there is a concern from a teacher with regards to safety in their home, independent of if we are talking about sexuality or gender issues, there is already a very clear path for teachers and counselors to make sure that child is protected," he said.
According to the Washington Post, more than 260 students across 30 school districts wrote to the newspaper saying they feared being outed to classmates or parents or forced to leave home.
Many expressed feeling depressed and suicidal.