Equality Virginia urges Youngkin to repeal transgender policy amid Colo shooting

Students in the Positive Dogs program at Patrick Henry High School share a meal with faculty and staff to show their gratitude.

LGBTQ+ advocacy group Equality Virginia on Tuesday sent a letter to Gov. Glenn Youngkin and State Superintendent Jillian Balow urging the government to revise its proposed policies on the treatment of transgender and non-binary students in light of last week’s mass shooting in a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, Col.

The proposed policy, released in September, would replace policies implemented under the then-government last year. Ralph Northam, who offered increased protection to transgender students. The new proposed policy offers more parental control and would require students to use school toilets that match their birth sex “except to the extent federal law dictates otherwise.”

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The model guidelines would also require parental approval of changes to a student’s name, as well as any nicknames or pronoun changes, and require that students’ participation in school sports and activities be based on “biological sex.”

“The proposed model policy (Virginia Department of Education) contributes to this violence by targeting trans youth: erasing their stories from classrooms; prevent them from playing sports; and forcing educators to come out with dead names, wrong gender and their parents,” the letter said.

“Following the tragic mass shooting in Colorado Springs this week, now is the time to stop the misinformation, transphobia and rhetoric that is fueling such violence.”

The Youngkin administration did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday night.

Police say a 22-year-old gunman opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs on Saturday. The gunman killed five people and left 25 injured before he was overpowered by well-wishers and arrested by police, authorities said.

“I urge you to do the right thing and repeal the proposed VDOE 2022 model guidelines. The safety of all LGBTQ+ Virginians depends on doing the right thing,” the letter continued.

“The crisis facing our transgender and non-binary community is urgent and urgently needs to be addressed. Lifting the guidelines now will help save lives.”

The VDOE’s controversial new policy received 71,298 written comments during the 30-day public comment period that ended last month.

Several of the comments raised a state law that requires an additional 30-day public comment period for guides alleged to have violated state law.

The proposed guidelines could come into force as early as Saturday.