Youngkin eliminates cabinet-level DEI post and bans 'critical race theory' from public schools

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Glenn Youngkin
Glenn Youngkin Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R), who defeated former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) last November in a race that attracted national attention, used his first days in office to take aggressive action on the culture war issue that propelled him into office.

Some Twitter users observed Saturday that Youngkin had almost immediately removed the "Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion" section from the Virginia governor's website. One user described the change, which indicates a larger shift in the structure of the commonwealth's executive branch, as "[s]ickening."

After photos surfaced that may have shown him wearing racist garb while in medical school, former Gov. Ralph Northam (D) created the cabinet-level position of chief diversity officer in 2019. It appears that Youngkin has eliminated that cabinet post entirely.

Archived versions of the Virginia governor's website from the Northam administration include a page for then-Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer Janice Underwood. The current version of the site lists no such position.

Youngkin also issued executive orders affecting education policy, which voters ranked as their top issue in the November election according to NPR. One of Youngkin's first orders banned "the use of divisive concepts, including Critical Race Theory, in public education," while another empowered parents to decide whether their kids would have to wear masks in school.

During the campaign, McAuliffe suffered greatly in the polls for saying during a debate with Youngkin that parents shouldn't "be telling schools what they should teach." That gaffe, along with a wave of contentious school board meetings in Virginia's Loudoun County, further inflamed a fierce national debate over the use of critical race theory and teaching around sex and gender in American schools.

Youngkin was sworn in as Virginia's 74th governor around noon Saturday. "To parents, I say we respect you, and we will empower you in the education of your children," he said in his inaugural address.

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