Democrats in Virginia’s congressional delegation sparred with Governor Glenn Youngkin at a meeting Monday over his newly introduced policies that would uphold parental rights on the gender issue and preserve private female spaces in public schools.
Held on a monthly basis, the meetings are designed for Virginia’s representatives in Washington to forge relationships with the governor and his staff and cooperate on issues facing the state. But on Monday, the typically amicable roundtable quickly deteriorated into frustration and outrage from members of both parties over the Virginia Department of Education’s new limitations on gender affirmation in schools.
Republican representative Bob Good and Democratic representative Abigail Spanberger reportedly launched into a dispute during the talk, sources with first- or secondhand knowledge of the meeting told the Washington Post.
Democratic representative Jennifer Wexton, who has a transgender niece, complained to Youngkin that the policy could harm the mental health of transgender students, the aides told the publication. She had criticized the policy as “a vile and disgusting attack on vulnerable trans kids” for which Youngkin “should be ashamed.”
Youngkin’s directive ordered the state’s public school districts to enforce gender-segregated bathrooms, locker rooms, and sports teams. The new guidelines mandate that faculty address children by their legal name and pronouns aligning with their sex unless parental permission is given consenting to a child’s “change of sex.” Schools would be required to inform parents “before counseling services pertaining to gender are given” to students.
Spanberger and Democratic representative Don Beyer suggested that the policy could be unconstitutional and could have an adverse effect on the state’s business prospects and economy, aides said. Youngkin reiterated that it defends a parent’s right to be involved in curricula and conversations around gender dysphoria and gender transition.
Speaking in favor of the measure, Good said schools and teachers should not play a part in facilitating young children’s sex changes, especially without parental knowledge. He stated that kids struggling with gender dysphoria are suicidal or ending their own lives “because of grooming,” or pressure from professionals to undergo the transformative treatment. Spanberger offered an expletive-laden retort: “That’s not f—ing true.”
Democratic senator Tim Kaine intervened to lower the temperature with a Bible verse urging charity and good will: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
In a subsequent interview with Punchbowl News, Good corroborated that the discussion turned ugly at one point, with him claiming the Democrats supported the “mutilation of children” and Spanberger angrily refuting his point with profanity.
Starting September 26, Youngkin’s model policies will undergo a 30-day public comment period for Virginia residents to submit their input. “Parents are a child’s primary and most important educator,” the draft read.