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Youngkin implies parents should know if school children are LGBTQ+. Virginia advocacy groups disagree.

The Republican governor made the comments in an interview with a D.C. news outlet. It was about guidance from the VDOE about what schools can share with parents.
Credit: AP
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin speaks during news conference announcing the Department of Education report on education Thursday May 19, 2022, in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

NORFOLK, Va. — Several Virginia advocacy groups criticized Gov. Glenn Youngkin's remarks implying educators should be required to inform parents of their kids’ sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Republican governor made the comments in a recent interview with the ABC-affiliated news outlet WJLA in Washington, D.C., when asked about potential guidance from the Virginia Board of Education on what information schools can share with parents.

The question referred to current policies in Fairfax and Loudoun counties regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.

"And with regards to informing parents with most important decisions about their children, I think everybody knows where I stand, parents matter," Youngkin said. "Parents should be at the forefront of all of these discussions. And I firmly believe that, that teachers and schools have an obligation to make sure that parents are well informed about what's happening in their kids' lives."

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The nine-member state board is set to meet on Aug. 17 after Youngkin appointed five people at the end of June, but sexual orientation and gender identity policies aren't listed on the agenda.

In response to Youngkin's remarks, the LGBT Life Center, which provides health and wellness services in Hampton Roads, said allowing educators to out their students without consent can be "incredibly damaging to queer youth."

"Allowing someone to 'come out' on their own terms gives agency to the individual to better understand their sexual orientation or gender identity," LGBT Life Center's Marketing Manager Tyler Neal said in a statement.

Neal explained that educators don't always know the nuances of a student’s home life, and outing someone without expressed consent can have ramifications beyond the classroom.

Dr. James Fedderman, the president of the Virginia Education Association, also took issue with the remarks.

Here's a statement from him:

"Every student deserves a safe, welcoming, and affirming learning environment. In fact, research shows that learning is stunted when the most basic need to feel safe and respected is not met. Because students are entitled to privacy and to have some say about what personal information about them is shared, we feel strongly that school employees should not disclose a student’s actual or perceived sexual orientation to others, including other students, parents or guardians, or other school personnel, unless required to do so by law, unless the student has agreed, or if a student is showing signs of abuse or indicates that he or she may be considering harming themselves."

During the 2021 governor's race, Youngkin ran on a platform to promote parents' rights in schools, particularly on mask requirements and the teaching of sexually explicit materials.

Youngkin's remarks seemingly align with a Virginia law stating, "a parent has a fundamental right to make decisions concerning the upbringing, education, and care of the parent's child." 

It's unknown if the Virginia Board of Education will act upon those remarks.

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