RICHMOND, Virginia (LifeSiteNews) — The Virginia Attorney General’s Office issued a legal opinion Thursday stating that Virginia’s biology-based standards for gender issues in public schools are legally binding on school districts that have resisted adopting them.
Under Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) has promulgated a model policy that requires students to be addressed by their legal names and actual sex, as well as to use biological sex to determine which bathrooms, lockers, or athletic teams they are allowed to access. Left-wing hostility to the policy in Roanoke County Public Schools recently caught the attention of the Biden administration Justice Department.
Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS) indicated earlier this month that it will not adopt the policy, prompting a rebuke from the governor, who said this week that the “law is very clear” on the matter, and that districts have no choice but to “comply with the law and stop thinking that they know more than parents.”
The issue has been complicated by the fact that, while Virginia law requires public school districts to abide by VDOE model policies, a lack of clear enforcement mechanisms has led some districts to flout them.
On August 24, Virginia’s Republican Attorney General Jason Miyares announced an official legal opinion on the matter, which he said “simply confirms what the overwhelming number of Virginians already know; parents have a fundamental right to the care, upbringing, and education of their children […] These policies are fully compliant with the law, and school boards across the Commonwealth should support and implement them. It’s not just common sense, it’s the law.”
The opinion determines that the Youngkin DOE rules “comply with the Equal Protection Clause [of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution], Title IX [of the federal Education Amendments Act of 1972], and the VHRA [Virginia Human Rights Act],” and that according to state law “local school boards are required to adopt policies that are consistent with” those rules.
Still, the opinion does not address how to enforce compliance on districts that still continue to defy the model policies, but Youngkin told reporters at a press conference this week to “stand by” when asked about enforcement, and Virginia State Superintendent Lisa Coons has warned that school boards “should consider the potential costs of civil litigation or other associated liabilities in evaluating the consequences of their actions.”
While outrage at “woke” education policies and disregard for parental rights fueled Youngkin’s victory for the governorship in 2021, the Virginia Legislature is still divided between a Democrat-controlled Senate and Republican-controlled House of Delegates, limiting state conservatives’ ability to enact more straightforward enforcement mechanisms.
Evidence shows that “affirming” minors’ gender confusion carries serious long-term harms. Studies find that more than 80 percent of children experiencing gender dysphoria outgrow it on their own by late adolescence, and that even full “reassignment” surgery often fails to resolve gender-confused individuals’ heightened tendency to engage in self-harm and suicide – and may even exacerbate it, including by reinforcing their confusion and neglecting the actual root causes of their mental strife.
Many oft-ignored “detransitioners,” individuals who attempted to live under a different “gender identity” before embracing their sex, attest to the physical and mental harm of reinforcing gender confusion, as well as to the bias and negligence of the medical establishment on the subject. The danger of keeping parents in the dark about such situations is grimly illustrated in the story of Yaeli Martinez, a 19-year-old to whom “gender transitioning” was touted as a possible cure for her depression in high school, supported by a high school counselor who withheld what she was going through from her mother. The troubled girl killed herself after trying to live as a man for three years.
Meanwhile, forced inclusion of gender-confused individuals in opposite-sex sports is commonly promoted as a matter of “inclusivity,” but critics note that indulging “transgender” athletes undermines the original rational basis for having sex-specific athletics in the first place, the fundamental physical differences between the sexes, thereby depriving female athletes of recognition and professional or academic opportunities.
There have been numerous high-profile examples in recent years of men winning women’s competitions, and research affirms that physiology gives males distinct athletic advantages that cannot be fully negated by hormone suppression.
In a 2019 paper published by the Journal of Medical Ethics, New Zealand researchers found that “healthy young men [do] not lose significant muscle mass (or power) when their circulating testosterone levels were reduced to (below International Olympic Committee guidelines) for 20 weeks,” and “indirect effects of testosterone” on factors such as bone structure, lung volume, and heart size “will not be altered by hormone therapy;” therefore, “the advantage to transwomen [biological men] afforded by the [International Olympic Committee] guidelines is an intolerable unfairness.”
As for forcing girls to share intimate facilities such as bathrooms, showers, or changing areas with members of the opposite sex, critics argue that it violates their privacy rights, subjects them to needless emotional stress, and gives potential male predators a viable pretext to enter female bathrooms or lockers by simply claiming transgender status.
In Virginia, former Loudoun County Public Schools superintendent Scott Ziegler is currently facing charges for allegedly covering up the rape of a female student by a “transgender” classmate in a girls bathroom due to its damaging implications for the LGBT movement.