ARLINGTON, Va. (DC News Now) — One day after Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin spoke in favor of increasing the amount of gender-neutral bathrooms in schools, a transgender student in the commonwealth is responding in an interview with DC News Now.
“Gender-neutral bathrooms are incredible,” Ranger Balleisen said in an interview. “It’s an incredible tool for LGBTQ people, especially people who don’t feel comfortable in either bathroom. However, that does disregard the fact that Gov. Youngkin is denying people the ability to use the bathroom that they choose.”
Belleisen, who rallied outside the CNN headquarters on Thursday night, where Youngkin’s town hall was held, was referring to the governor’s proposed model transgender student policy.
The policy states, “students shall use bathrooms that correspond to his or her sex… except to the extent that federal law otherwise requires.” That portion has raised questions about the policy’s legality. It’s previously received plenty of pushback from Northern Virginia school board members and districts.
“If you are essentially forcing someone who does not identify as a male to use a male restroom, and they present outwardly as a female … to me that would violate federal law,” said Attorney Dionna Maria Lewis, who later acknowledged that the policy’s legality could be interpreted differently.
“It could be like a car accident,” she said. “Two people can read the same law and get two different interpretations.”
At the town hall, 17-year-old Niko, a student in Arlington, told the governor, “look at me, I am a transgender man.” He continued: “Do you really think that the girls in my high school would feel comfortable using the restroom with me?”
The governor responded, in part: “What’s most important is we try very hard to accommodate students. That’s why I’ve said many many times we just need extra bathrooms in schools. We need gender-neutral bathrooms, so people can use a bathroom they are comfortable with.”
Youngkin also commented on transgender girls playing on school sports teams, claiming it was “uncontroversial” that they should be barred from competing on girls teams.