ACLU files lawsuit over Youngkin’s transgender student policies

February 19, 2024

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The ACLU of Virginia filed two lawsuits against the state Department of Education on Thursday, asking the courts to throw out Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s policies on the treatment of transgender students and rule that school districts are not required to follow them.

Youngkin’s policies roll back many accommodations for transgender students urged by the previous Democratic administration, including allowing teachers and students to refer to a transgender student by the name and pronouns associated with their sex assigned at birth. They also call for school systems’ sports teams to be organized by the sex assigned at birth, meaning that transgender girls would be unable to participate on girls’ sports teams.

The legal challenges in Virginia come at a time when a wave of new restrictions on transgender and nonbinary students have been put in place in Republican states. At least 10 states have enacted laws prohibiting or restricting students from using pronouns or names that don’t match their sex assigned at birth.

Youngkin has said the new policies in Virginia are aimed at giving parents a greater say in how their children are treated at school. But opponents argue that the policies violate the law by codifying discrimination against transgender students.

In the case of the York student, at least one teacher refused to address the student by her correct first name, that lawsuit alleges.

The Hanover student was not allowed to participate on a girls’ sports tream, according to that lawsuit. The complaint says that even though she successfully qualified during tryouts and her parents provided requested documentation, the school board voted to exclude her from the team, citing the model policies.

“When you look at the ways that (the Virginia Department of Education’s) model policies are hurting transgender and nonbinary students like our clients, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that their authors were purposefully trying to erase gender-nonconforming students from the classroom,” Andrew Ewalt, a private attorney who represents the plaintiffs, said in a statement.

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