CV NEWS FEED // Republican Attorney General Jason Miyares defended Virginia’s pro-parent guidelines for schools which were recently violated by the state’s largest school district.
The Virginia Department of Education under the administration of Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced the “Model Policies on Ensuring Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for All Students and Parents in Virginia’s Public Schools” last month.
As CatholicVote then reported, the policies protect children from gender ideology “in locker rooms, bathrooms, sports, and classrooms.” They also prioritize “parental authority in children’s education, stating that parents are in the best position to make decisions about their children’s names, pronouns, or sex; not the government, schools, or the children themselves.”
On August 15, Virginia’s Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) announced that it would not comply with the guidelines.
“Let me be clear that FCPS remains committed to fostering a safe, supportive, welcoming, and inclusive school environment for all students and staff, including our transgender and gender expansive [sic] students and staff,” Superintendent Michelle Reid stated in announcing her district’s rejection of the Model Policies.
Nestled in the suburbs of Washington D.C., the district serves 181,000 students and is coterminous with heavily Democratic Fairfax County. President Biden won the county with nearly 70% of the vote in 2020. It is also an overwhelmingly affluent area and has been ranked among the top five wealthiest counties in the nation.
Other districts in deep-blue northern Virginia have followed FCPS in defying the Youngkin administration’s directive. Prince William County Schools (PWCS) announced they too would stick with their current pro-“trans” policies.
In response, Attorney General Miyares wrote an official advisory opinion addressed to Youngkin Wednesday that affirmed the validity of the Model Policies. The opinion also concluded that “local school boards are required to adopt policies that are consistent with them.”
Youngkin had earlier requested the opinion, asking Miyares if the policies violated the 14th Amendment, Title IX, or the Virginia Human Rights Act. In all three cases, the attorney general found no violation.
Miyares said in a Thursday press release:
This official Attorney General Opinion simply confirms what the overwhelming number of Virginians already know; parents have a fundamental right to the care, upbringing, and education of their children. Parents, not government, are in the best position to work with their children on important life decisions, and no parent signs up to co-parent with the government. In fact, the rights of parents are one of our oldest and most fundamental liberty interests.
Miyares continued that the “Model Policies ensure that all students are treated with dignity and that parental involvement remains at the center.” He noted that they are “fully compliant with the law” adding, “It’s not just common sense, it’s the law.”
The Associated Press observed that “a similar dynamic, in political reverse” occurred during the tenure of Youngkin’s Democratic predecessor, former Gov. Ralph Northam. In 2020, the Northam administration adopted a pro-“trans” policy model, which The Virginia Mercury noted a year later “largely hasn’t been enforced.”
According to both the AP and the Mercury, the Northam administration “told local districts at the time that they assumed ‘all legal responsibility for noncompliance’ and did not track which divisions were meeting the standards.”
With his attorney general now giving him the green light, Youngkin is faced with the challenge of enforcing the pro-parent policies, especially in Virginia’s liberal northern counties.
Again from the AP:
Youngkin has made the case in recent public appearances that school boards have no choice but to fall in line. But he has declined to say exactly what tools his administration thinks it has to attempt to get noncompliant districts on board. The 2020 state law that led to the creation of the model policies is silent on enforcement.
Pressed Wednesday on the issue when speaking with reporters, Youngkin responded: “Just stand by.” He added that he expects school boards “fully to get to the right place.”
Youngkin’s Model Policies come two years after the rape of a 15-year-old female student by a male student in the girl’s bathroom was covered up by Loudon County Public Schools – another district in a largely blue northern Virginia county. This story was considered by many to be a turning point that helped Youngkin narrowly win the 2021 gubernatorial election in a shocking upset.
As CatholicVote previously reported, “the rape and subsequent coverup notably occurred after the Virginia school district embraced pro-“trans” policies. The attacker in the case wore a skirt.”