The Virginia governor’s policies have received backlash from transgender and equal rights advocates

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin offered a shallow solution to the state’s divided stance on public education and transgender policies during CNN’s town hall on Thursday. The Republican governor, whose administration’s guidelines ban transgender students from using bathrooms and competing in sports teams that do not match their gender assigned at birth, attempted to minimize the controversial new policies.

As Youngkin fielded questions from CNN’s Jake Tapper, parents, and educators, a 17-year-old student who identified as a transgender man asked, “Do you really think that the girls in my high school would feel comfortable sharing a restroom with me?” In response, the governor replied that the solution was to offer “extra bathrooms in schools,” before taking the opportunity to argue that “biological boys should be playing sports with biological girls.”

Youngkin, whose issued guidelines that require students to file legal documents in order to be called by different pronouns, has received backlash from transgender and equal rights advocates who argue that his recent policies limit the rights and protections of transgender children at school.

The 56-year-old Republican gave the GOP hope when the party lost control of the White House and the Senate in 2021. His defeat of Democrat Terry McAuliffe marked only the second time a Democrat has lost a race for governor in the Virginia in the past 20 years, and the first since 2009. Although he declined to comment on a potential 2024 presidential run during Thursday’s town hall, his high-profile victory has some questioning if he will make a bid for the White House.


The longtime private equity executive tailored his campaign around hot-button issues like critical race theory, vaccine mandates, and transphobia in an effort to bait and drum up fear among the state’s moderate suburban voters.

Last September, the ACLU of Virginia responded to the reversal of school protections for transgender students. “We are appalled by the Youngkin administration’s overhaul of key protections for transgender students in public schools,” the group wrote on Twitter. “LGBTQ+ students already experience much higher self-harm & suicide rates because of the discrimination they face. This will only make matters worse.”


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