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HARRISONBURG, Virginia (LifeSiteNews) – Virginia citizens voiced “overwhelming” support for Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s anti-gender ideology school policies at a school board meeting this week.

The meeting came on the heels of a student walkout earlier that day at Harrisonburg High School (HHS) in protest of Youngkin’s 2022 Model Policies on the Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for all Students and Parents in Virginia’s Public Schools.

The Model Policies mandate that schools treat students according to their biological sex by default, including in matters of gender pronouns, sports teams, and bathroom use.

In contrast to the protesting high school students, an “overwhelming majority of speakers” backed Youngkin’s new policies during the public comment period of Tuesday’s Harrisonburg School Board meeting.

“So much of our focus is on sexuality,” one speaker said, according to WHSV3. “I thought school was about reading, writing, and arithmetic.”

An HHS student spoke out as well in support of the right to use the pronouns of another’s biological sex.

“Many students like me are put into uncomfortable situations where they are forced to comply with the request of another party to call them by a specific pronoun that is against their personal beliefs. My question is, do you have the legal power to dictate what comes out of our mouths?” he said.

“These things are kind of poisonous, in my opinion, and the question is why should we put this stuff in our kid’s mind,” another speaker said.

WHSV3 reported that “dozens” of people supported the adoption of Youngkin’s policies, whereas only a “handful” opposed them.

One speaker who rejected Youngkin’s directives commented, “I think the things that LGBTQ+ kids, staff, and teachers are hearing tonight are probably very painful. I want them to hear that there are adults that love and support them.”

Among other directives, the 2022 policies mandate that:

  • “[School Division] personnel shall refer to each student using only the pronouns appropriate to the sex appearing in the student’s official record”
  • [School Division] personnel shall refer to students by a name or pronouns other than those of their sex “only if an eligible student or a student’s parent has instructed [School Division] in writing” to do so “because of the student’s persistent and sincere belief that the student’s gender differs from his or her sex.”
  • “[School Division] shall not compel” other personnel or students to “refer to students in any manner that would violate their constitutionally protected rights.”
  • “For any school program, event, or activity, including extracurricular activities that are separated by sex, the appropriate participation of students shall be determined by sex.”
  • “Overnight travel accommodations, locker rooms, and other intimate spaces used for school-related activities and events shall be based on sex.”
  • “Students shall use bathrooms that correspond to his or her sex, except to the extent that federal law otherwise requires.”

The policies argue that compelling people to use another’s “preferred pronouns” is a violation of the First Amendment:

“The First Amendment forbids government actors to require individuals to adhere to or adopt any particular ideological beliefs. Practices such as compelling others to use preferred pronouns is premised on the ideological belief that gender is a matter of personal choice or subjective experience, not sex. Many Virginians reject this belief.”

“Additionally, the First Amendment guarantees religious freedom and prohibits compelling others to affirm ideas that may be contrary to their personal religious beliefs.”

It is noteworthy, however, that the policies do allow school recognition of a name and pronouns not corresponding to a student’s sex, if proper procedure is followed using the written instructions of a parent or “eligible student.”

The policies additionally prohibit bullying “for any reason.”

The mandates replace the 2021 Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools and condemn them as having “disregarded the rights of parents and ignored other legal and constitutional principles that significantly impact how schools educate students, including transgender students.”

According to WHSV3, Virginia School Divisions must “adopt their own final policies that reflect the guidelines.”