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Virginia Students Walk Out in Protest of Youngkin Policy

by Mikaela Gantz

Governor Glenn Youngkin is pushing for new school board policies that would reverse major protections for transgender students. The policy reversal outlined would require students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their biological sex. This new policy would make it much harder for students to change the names and pronouns that they prefer to be referred to by. This policy clearly contrasts a policy put out by former governor Ralph Northam last year, which was a major step forward for transgender students concerning pronoun and name usage. 

Virginia students have expressed outrage at the policy. That outrage turned to action with statewide protests, particularly in high schools across the Commonwealth. Students from nearly 100 highschools across the state walked out to protest the announcement of this policy. Many of the students protesting held beliefs that they have a right to a voice in this manner, as it is students that will be affected by such guidelines. Many students want their school districts to stand up and fight against the guidelines, which some districts in northern Virginia have made public promises to do. Many are afraid of what this means for LGBTQIA+ students in Virginia, but unfortunately, this is far more than just a statewide issue. 

Moving the focus to national politics, it’s clear that these guidelines are a part of a larger nationwide GOP move that has increasingly targeted LGBTQIA+ citizens. There are similar policies in many states with Republican governors, such as Desantis’ infamous “Don’t Say Gay” policy in Florida. While these students protesting may show their school districts that they care and prompt the school districts to fight for their rights on behalf of them, this is far more than just a Virginia issue. LGBTQIA+ rights have become increasingly politicized and it’s important to be aware that while this is an issue that pertains to Virginia residents, it also has a much larger effect across the nation.