News & Politics

Thousands of Virginia Students Protest Youngkin’s New Transgender Policies

Kids will walk out all over the state: "We will not stand for this attempt to politicize our schools."

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin at the State Fair of Virginia on September 26. Photograph by Christian Martinez, Office of Governor Glenn Youngkin, via Flickr.

Students at nearly 100 schools have coordinated a protest against Virginia’s new policies for transgender students, which were proposed by Governor Glenn Youngkin. At 8:30 AM, students at Prince George High School were the first scheduled to walk out, and others around the state plan to continue throughout the school day. 

Organizers and protesters hope that this show of outrage will push the Virginia Department of Education to rescind the recently announced policies. 

“We want to make it clear that Virginia students are not going to stand for the removal of this basic protection,” says Rivka Vizcardo-Lichter, a student at Oakton High School and organizer with Pride Liberation Project, a student-run LGBTQIA+ advocacy organization in Virginia.

Pride Liberation Project said in a press release, “We call for the VDOE to revoke its draft revisions and for school boards to affirm their commitment to protect all students by rejecting these bigoted proposed guidelines.”

The Virginia Department of Education released updated transgender policies on September 16. The new policies restrict transgender students from using the bathrooms and other facilities that align with their gender identity, and require parental consent before a student’s name or gender can be changed at school. Pride Liberation Project has said these new policies “betray the original intent of the law,” and attack LGBTQIA+ students. 

Several Northern Virginia school districts have already pushed back against the guidelines.

Vizcardo-Lichter said they faced pushback from the majority of schools while organizing the walk-out. Most of the administrators cited the disruption as the reason for their opposition, but she said, “it was clear that they just did not support what we were walking out for.”

She also said that organizers hope to address the rhetoric that has been surrounding the debate about transgender policies in school. “This is not about protecting parental rights, this is not about protecting students rights. This is about taking away protections for transgender students … and we will not stand for this attempt to politicize our schools so [Governor Youngkin] can gain political points.”

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Keely recently graduated with her master’s in journalism from American University and has reported on local DC, national politics, and business. She has previously written for The Capitol Forum.