Youngkin makes appearance on CNN town hall
WASHINGTON (CBS19 NEWS) -- Governor Glenn Youngkin made an appearance on Thursday night at a CNN town hall event entitled "War on Education.” He gave his opinion on controversial issues facing the education system in the Commonwealth.
Youngkin touched on many topics, most of which focused on public education which has brought controversy in the state. These included school curriculum, transgender policies in schools, and gun violence and laws.
For instance, Youngkin says Virginia's gun laws are not to blame for the shooting of an elementary school teacher earlier this year in Newport News. This week, it was reported the six-year-old boy who allegedly shot the teacher will not face charges.
"Virginia has some of the toughest gun laws in the country. Those gun laws don't keep us safe. It's not laws that keep us safe, it's the behavior of people that we need to make sure we pay attention to," said Youngkin to a room full of people.
He says parents have a responsibility to keep guns out of their kids’ hands and they need to be held accountable. Prosecutors are still considering potential charges against the parents in Newport News.
On top of that, he says the pandemic has created an “extraordinary mental health crisis” throughout the country.
School curriculum was also addressed in the wake of controversies from across the United States involving the teaching of certain topics.
Something that has gotten national attention recently is the AP African American Studies class because Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida banned it.
Youngkin is currently having those materials reviewed by Virginia’s Department of Education, which he says is done with anything taught in Virginia schools.
"And so, I just asked our Department of Education exactly what executive order number one asks us to do on all of our [curricula]. I have no reason to believe, given the changes I know have been made to the course, that it won't be a fine course for Virginia. But I have to let our Department of Education do their job. This is what I've asked them to do, and I look forward to getting the report back," said Youngkin.
He ordered the review of the curriculum to make sure no "inherently divisive concepts" are in the course.
Youngkin signed an executive order last year banning "Critical Race Theory" in Virginia's public schools.
This theory, according to CNN, is based on the idea that racism is systemic in American society and is not the simple result of individual prejudice. Youngkin believes children should not be taught that "they are inherently biased."
Finally, his administration’s transgender policies in school were addressed.
Policies surrounding transgender students have been at the forefront of many state legislative conversations.
Youngkin's administration includes guidelines that put a ban on trans students using bathrooms or competing on sports teams that do not match their sex assigned at birth. During the town hall event, he was challenged on these policies directly by a transgender high school man.
"Look at me. I am a transgender man. Do you really think that the girls in my school would feel comfortable sharing a bathroom with me," asked the student.
Youngkin responded saying his administration is trying to accommodate students.
"I also think there are a lot of students involved in this decision. That's why I have said many, many times we just need extra bathrooms in schools. We need gender-neutral bathrooms and so people can use the bathroom that they are in fact comfortable with," he said.
As for sports, he is against biological girls playing with biological boys and vice-versa, saying it isn't fair. Youngkin also believes parents should have a say in all of these "difficult decisions.”
When pressed about what to do when parents aren't supportive of their trans children, Youngkin began talking about parents who he says have been locked out of their children's lives.
Youngkin's name continues to be floated as a potential Republican 2024 presidential candidate. He shrugged off any questions about his future ambitions at the town hall.