Virginian students walk out of class to protest new transgender student policies

By Abigail Kim

Students across Virginia walked out of their classes in protest of the new school transgender policies. 

On September 16, Virginia’s governor Glenn Youngkin released a new policy that requires schools to categorize transgender students based on their “biological sex” when using the restroom, locker room, other facilities, when participating in school activities. This policy dictates that the school must also keep parents “fully informed” about all matters regarding their child. The policy also prevents transgender students from taking on new names without their guardian’s permission. 

Virginian students expressed their disapproval of the new policy by taking action. The student walkout was organized by the Pride Liberation Project, a student led coalition that advocates for LGBTQ youth. 

“These revised guidelines will only hurt students in times when students are facing unparalleled mental health challenges, and are a cruel attempt to politicize the existence of LGBTQIA+ students for political gain,” the group stated, according to the Washington Post. 

Sophomore Laura Truong helped lead more than 50 students out of Falls Church High School in Fairfax County. 

“We want our school districts to stand up for us and support us and say that they’ll reject these guidelines,” Truong told the Washington Post. 

On Tuesday morning, students also walked out of Langley High School in McLean. Students from the high school gave speeches about their opposition to the new policies. Students from various schools held rainbow flags and picket signs, shouting “Protect trans youth,” and “Trans rights are human rights.”

The walkout was organized in order to raise awareness that the new policies are transphobic and risk the health and safety of trans students that have yet to come out to their parents. This is a national concern with similar policies happening in other states.

Trans students openly expressed their worries about how they would be affected by the policies.

“I nearly committed suicide. These are really kids who are scared out of their minds because of this policy” Casey Calabia, a non binary high school senior at one of the protests said according to the Guardian. 

Calabia said they had been misgendered and bullied at their previous school before transferring to a more inclusive and accepting school. Their worries focus on how the new policies will affect the mental health of transgender students. 

Youngkin argued that the main point of the policy was to include parents in the decision-making processes about their own children. 

“We have really, really enhanced all safety aspects to make sure that harassment and discrimination [are] fully admonished and to make sure that students don’t have to have any kind of harassment. But I think the most important topic here is that this is about bringing the parents into a decision moment where they belong,” Youngkin said in a statement. 

Regardless of the reasons, the legal experts say that Youngkin’s new policy could face legal challenges in the near future particularly considering the federal protections that were created for transgender students that allowed them to use any restroom that they identified with.