NORFOLK, Va. — A new ad about reading material in schools from Republican Glenn Youngkin’s campaign is under fire from Democratic Candidate Terry McAuliffe and his supporters.
McAuliffe’s team calls the ad a "racist dog whistle." Youngkin’s team said the issue isn’t about color at all, but parent choice.
Youngkin’s team said the ad is about a parent having a say in a child’s education. The ad claims Democratic candidate and former governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed bills to inform parents about explicit content assigned in class.
McAuliffe fired back at the ad on Twitter, calling the move a “Trumpian Dog whistle" and saying it’s silencing Black authors.
"This has been vetted by the school board, this has been taught now for decades,” said former Del. Debra Rodman.
Democratic Party of Virginia leaders, like State Sen. Louise Lucas, held a call on the ad Tuesday. They said it referred to a book about slavery called "Beloved" by Black author Toni Morrison.
“Youngkin chose to deliver a closing message, centered around yet another racist dog whistle to ban books and silence Black authors, including Toni Morrison,” Lucas said.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said Youngkin is encouraging censorship.
“We cannot allow censorship to dictate our children’s future, bottom line,” he said.
But in a call Tuesday with Youngkin’s team, his supporters said the ad has nothing to do with race.
“The African American community is just far too sophisticated to paint this as a racial issue,” said former Fairfax School Board Member Kay C. James.
“It’s about two things: parent rights and student safety,” said parent Joe Mobley.
Youngkin’s spokesperson said they aren’t pushing to ban any one book, but to give parents a choice on assigned material. He said Youngkin would have signed the bills McAuliffe vetoed.
“It was bipartisan, and it would have given parents a say in their child’s education,” said spokesman Matt Walking. “It would not have let parents make a decision for anyone else’s child, only their own.”
Youngkin’s team released the ad on Monday night.
When it’s time to cast a ballot next week, some LGBTQ Virginia voters say they aren’t sure who they’ll support for Governor.
“If the leaders of the state, don’t embody the true inclusion of all families, then we are left out,” said LGBTQ voter Bob Witeck.
Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe's campaign website states he will “uplift and prioritize the LGBTQ+ community”.
Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin’s site doesn’t specifically mention the group.
“What worries me about a potential Governor Youngkin is that he wouldn’t care about our families,” said LBGTQ voter Carol Schall.
On Tuesday, the Human Rights Campaign, which endorses McAuliffe, held an online press conference about a recent Associated Press interview with Youngkin.
The article said when asked if faith shapes his view of same-sex marriage, Youngkin responded he feels "called to love everyone." The article goes on to say they asked Youngkin if that view supports same-sex marriage, and he said "no." But he also called same-sex marriage "legally acceptable" and said he would support it as governor.
LGBTQ+ voter Carol Schall said that was still a red flag for her.
“Am I a true member of this democracy in Virginia, of this Commonwealth, or am I a thorn in his side that he is willing to tolerate for four years until he is out of office?” Schall said.
A Youngkin spokesperson said the Republican will support the law.
“As Glenn said, gay marriage is the law in Virginia, and he will support the law as governor. Glenn spoke up when pride flags were destroyed because he believes in respecting everyone and protecting everyone.”
In September, Log Cabin Republicans, an organization that advocates for LGBT rights, endorsed Youngkin. Here's what President Charles Moran said about him:
“Glenn Youngkin is an inclusive, conservative candidate who will move Virginia forward as Governor. Not only is Youngkin a proven leader, but he has demonstrated his desire to listen to and work with the LGBT community.
During his time leading the Carlyle Group, the company was recognized as one of the most LGBT inclusive places to work in America. Youngkin will bring that same inclusive leadership to Virginia while standing up for the issues important to conservative LGBT Virginians, including ending the Left-wing wokeness invading our schools, supporting law enforcement, reducing taxes, lowering the cost of living, growing jobs and protecting small businesses.
Winning the Virginia governor’s seat is a critical first step in boosting Virginia’s economy and stopping Terry McAuliffe’s extreme liberal agenda, and we’re proud to endorse Glenn Youngkin to get it done.”