The Youngkin Administration’s Model Policies

The Youngkin Administration recently enacted a bill against thousands of transgender students. How will this bill effect them?


Annie Eason

Students at Door 1 in the Sept. 27 Walkout. Students walked out to show their disapproval for Youngkin’s bill.

On Sept. 16, the Virginia Department of Education released its 2022 Model Policies. According to Appendix 1, section D, the model policies require school personnel to only refer to each student by their legal name and by their pronouns associated with their biological sex. That same section notes that the policy also requires that school personnel cannot conceal material about a student from their parent/guardian, including information related to their gender. Appendix sections G and H requires transgender students to use bathrooms and join athletic teams according to their sex. 


The Facts

According to the Mayo Clinic, the word “transgender” or “trans” is an umbrella term defining gender fluidity and gender identity. Transgender people identify with a gender identity that is different from the sex assigned at birth, and that could be identifying with the male gender when born as a female, vice versa, none at all or a mix. It’s a wide spectrum. Unfortunately, according to a study conducted by the Canadian Medical Association Journal, suicidal rates among transgender adolescents is higher than average. “Compared with cisgender, heterosexual adolescents, transgender adolescents showed 5 times the risk of suicidal ideation (95% [Confidence Interval] 3.63 to 6.75; 58% v. 10%) and 7.6 times the risk of suicide attempt (95% CI  4.76 to 12.10; 40% v. 5%).” Gender-affirming care helped transgender adolescents, as they showed “similar or better psychological functioning compared with cisgender peers from the general population after the start of specialized transgender care involving puberty suppression” according to the Journal of Adolesecent Health. 

However, when a transgender person cannot transition to the gender they feel validated in due to outside sources (parents, money, etc.) distress sets in. It is likely why suicidal rates among non-transitioned transgender children is so high. When parents have an insistent belief that their child’s feelings about their gender is wrong, they may consider sending them to conversion therapy. 

Conversion therapy, which according to lgbtmap is legal in 21 states and is partially legal in 6 more has also been shown to have adverse effects on transgender people. Conversion therapy is a practice that attempts to change the sexual or gender identity of people in the guise of “curing” the individual. It is often ineffective and practices can include hypnosis, shaming, inducing vomiting and electric shocks. A study from the Journal of Homosexuality showed that “gender minority respondents who ‘had a professional try to stop them from being transgender’ were significantly more likely to experience serious psychological distress, have attempted suicide, have ever experienced homelessness, have ever done sex work, and almost three times as likely to have run away from home compared to respondents who did not experience GICE [Gender Identity Change Efforts] (James et al., 2016, p. 110).” Transgender children who are “outed” to their parents as transgender may risk experiencing GICE. With Youngkin’s new policy, transgender students may be sent to these conversion therapy camps as school personnel cannot conceal information regarding gender from their parents. 


What do trans students think? 

According to Robinson transgender students, the policies effect will be devastating. “They’re going to get outed,” said sophomore Ella Osborne. “It’s going to be really uncomfortable to go into different locker rooms and it’s dangerous- if they get outed to conservative parents, trans kids die.” Ella also commented on how the policy may affect them. “I am non-binary, which falls under the trans category and since I usually just use my same-sex facilities [bathrooms, etc.]; I don’t think it’s going to affect me as much as somebody transitioning to the other sex,” Ella said. “If I had a jerky teacher, they don’t have to follow peoples’ preferred name or pronouns because God forbid somebody go by different names and pronouns.” When asked about the effects of a forced de-transition, they said, “Trans kids commit suicide all the time first of all, the effects beside from the really horrible body dysphoria, is that it ruins kids. They already have to spend their lives in a body that they didn’t choose to have and then they finally get that opportunity [to transition] and that gets taken away.”

On Sept. 27, students all over Virginia walked out to demonstrate their frustration with the bill. Organizer Jaeda Lawton and others spoke at the walkout, explaining their distaste for the bill and other speakers sharing their personal experiences as transgender people. “It’s very angering,” Jaeda said. “It disrespects a lot of trans students. It also uses the education system to promote what people may say as political ideology of right or left wing ideology. In Youngkin’s case…he’s pushing his political agenda onto a place of education where you are supposed to feel respected and welcomed to learn, not to be politicized.” When asked about how the policy may affect them and other transgender students, Jaeda said, “I feel like if the policy was passed, the suicide rates would increase in Virginia, because it again disrespects a lot of transgender students, it allows students to be deadnamed, to be harassed by staff as well. In some places in Virginia, students may even be outed to their parents with malicious intent because that would be allowed. It would create a very unsafe environment for a transgender student, its also like I said, disrespects transgender students and it creates a lot of harmful problems and it honestly divides our society much more than it needs to be right now.”

Junior Ash Brooks, one of the speakers in the walkout, also said this regarding how the bill may affect transgender students. “It’ll extremely our mental health negatively because we’re not getting the support that we need in a place where we spend most of our time.” When regarding how a forced de-transition may affect transgender students, Ash said “The effects of a forced de-transition- some kids spend a lot of money in transitioning and forcing someone to de-transition is wasting that money.” Ash also mentioned that students will have to take large steps backwards in transitioning, which can be harmful for their mental health. 


Why did this happen?

Bills against transgender rights are prevalent across America, including bills regarding pronoun and name usage. A common belief of conservatives, which the Youngkin Administration is a part of, is that teachers do not have a right to conceal students’ gender identities because it would defy their parents rights. What many people fail to realize is that outing a “closeted” person (LGBTQ+ person who have not stated or expressed their sexual or gender identity) to parents who have strong beliefs against LGBTQ+ people can be dangerous for them according to the 2018 HRC report. According to an interview from, eighteen-year-old Dahlia Bekong was one outed student. When Dahlia Bekong was accidentally outed to her parents by a phone call from their teacher, their family life was destroyed. “After that call, my parents were really angry and confrontational,” Bekong said. “They accused me of destroying our family. I didn’t feel safe in my own home. I don’t think the teacher meant to cause harm—she made a mistake. But one inadvertent mistake can have catastrophic consequences.” There are many people who share a similar story with Dahlia. Teachers should be able to conceal a student’s gender from their parents because if students are outed to their parents who hold a strong belief against queerness, students will be put in risky situations, including abuse. Transgender students want to be able to tell their families about their gender identity, yet when they feel like they are putting themselves at risk for expressing their gender identities, they hide their identities from their parents. 

Many have questioned why the bill was created, including Ash Brooks. “I think [Youngkin] made it because there were parents complaining,” Ash said. “He thinks it’s negatively impacting other students even though it’s not.” Furthermore, when asked about why parents are complaining, Ash said “They have their own views and they don’t want their child to learn any other way.” 

The bill also addresses transgender students’ ability to use bathrooms according to their gender. People who support the bill argue that allowing people to use bathrooms according to their gender may result in men pretending to be trans women sexually harassing women in women’s bathrooms and locker rooms. However, according to a UCLA study, nondiscrimination laws in public restrooms do not make bathrooms at risk of such behavior. The study claims, “The passage of such nondiscrimination laws is not related to the number or frequency of criminal incidents in such public spaces. Additionally, the results show that reports of privacy and safety violations in public restrooms, locker rooms, and changing rooms were exceedingly rare and much lower than statewide rates of reporting violent crimes more generally. This study provides evidence that fears of increased safety and privacy violations as a result of nondiscrimination laws are not empirically grounded.” Transgender students who are forced to use bathrooms that do not align with their gender identity also experience poorer mental health, according to the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Additionally, Youngkin’s bill addresses transgender students’ ability to join sports teams aligning with their gender. Supporters of the bill argue that transgender girls have an advantage over their cisgender peers and therefore should only be allowed to participate in boy sport teams, citing testosterone. While the claim may seem rational, it is unfounded. In a Greensboro study where children divided by sex and age threw tennis balls with their non-dominant arms, they concluded that males threw harder in their dominant hand than females but when they threw the ball with their nondominant hand, there were negligible differences. It’s important to note that girls have been told to not pursue sports because it’s a “boy sport” for generations, which can be why female participants showed less skill in throwing tennis balls using their dominant hand in comparison to male participants. Female participants may not have had the chance to practice that skill or felt like they should pursue sports in their life. A scholarly article written by Erin E. Buzuvis claims “medical science does not support the conclusion that natal men have physical features presumed to be advantageous in athletics, nor does it support the conclusion that physical features associated with masculinity produce a competitive advantage.” According to CBS 8, it is inconclusive as to whether transgender athletes have an advantage over their cisgender peers as there isn’t a lot of data on transgender athletes. Though, transgender students have been included in school sports- including in our own school and haven’t caused problems. An example is in a Connecticut lawsuit where Selina Soule and Chelsea Mitchell’s parents allege that Andraya Yearwood and Terry Miller should not be allowed to play in sports teams because of their transness. However, what the plaintiffs fail to mention is that Chelsea Mitchell has won against Terry Miller in multiple instances. For example, in the Hillsbury Women’s Varsity 60 meter dash, Chelsea Mitchell finished first in 7.77 seconds, Terry Miller in third in 8.08 seconds and Selina Soule in fifth by 8.13 seconds. While Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood had won before, so had Chelsea Mitchell, proving that cisgender girls can win against trans girls in races. 

It is likely that future bills like the model policies will be enacted by the Youngkin administration, in the United States, and worldwide. To help support transgender students, Robinson should treat them kindly and with respect. Urging individuals that are eligible to vote to elect candidates that protect transgender people’s rights is also something that students can do to help their transgender classmates. Individuals alone cannot incite change- communities must work together to create a better world equal for all.