WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — About three dozen protesters demonstrated outside of CNN’s Washington bureau before Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin took part in a live town hall focused on education.
The organization Pride Liberation Project organized the rally to protest Youngkin’s transgender model policies from the Virginia Department of Education.
The changes make it so students’ participation in certain school programming and use of school facilities like bathrooms or locker rooms should be based on their biological sex, with modifications offered only to the extent required under federal law. The policies also say that students who are minors must be referred to by the name and pronouns in their official records unless a parent approves the use of something else.
“Trans students do not feel safe in Gov. Youngkin’s administration,” said Casey Calabia, rally organizer and senior at McLean High School.
Youngkin won the governorship largely because of his education platform that he would give parents more say in their kid’s education.
“We believe that Glenn Younkin is not educating us as accurately as possible, and we’re here because we think that his trans model policies are not model policies. They’re just excuses to justify bigotry,” said Ranger Balleisen, rally organizer and senior at McLean High School.
Balleisen said Youngkin’s policies have negatively impacted his school environment.
“We are here because we deserve accurate history, because we deserve comprehensive school funding, because we deserve to feel safe and included in our schools,” Balleisen said.
In the town hall, Youngkin took a question from a transgender student named Niko.
“Governor Younkin, your transgender model policies require that students play on the sports teams and use the restrooms that correspond with their sex assigned at birth. Look at me. I am a transgender man. Do you really think that the girls in my high school would feel comfortable sharing a restroom with me?” Niko asked.
Youngkin thanked him for his question.
“I believe first, when parents are engaged with their children, then you can make good decisions together and I Met Your dad and I’m glad that you’re both here together,” Youngkin said. That’s really really important. I also think that there are lots of students involved in this decision. And what’s most important is that we try very hard to accommodate students. That’s why I have said many, many times. We just need extra bathrooms in schools. We need gender-neutral bathrooms, and so people can use a bathroom that they in fact are comfortable with.”
Youngkin also answered his question about separating sports teams by biological sex.
“I think sports are very clear, and I don’t think it’s controversial. I don’t think that biological boys should be playing sports with biological girls,” Youngkin said. “There’s been decades of efforts in order to gain opportunities for women in sports, and it’s just not fair.”
Protesters on Thursday night chanted “Trans rights are human rights” and “We do not trust Youngkin with our education.”
“We want to be respected in our schools to trans students do not feel safe in Gov. Youngkin’s current administration. We know that he does not have our best interests at heart,” Calabia said. “I believe he doesn’t really care about educating students. He cares about setting a political precedent. He’s obviously floated the idea of running for president. He doesn’t care about Virginia. He doesn’t care about what our kids need.”