ICYMI: Glenn Youngkin Continues Extremist Anti-Trans Attacks at CNN Town Hall

by Elizabeth Bibi

WASHINGTON — Tonight, at his CNN town hall, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin continued to attack transgender people. Youngkin, who has opposed marriage equality, rolled back protections for transgender students, and campaigned using transphobic and anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, responded to a question from a transgender student, Niko, with evasive answers.

“Tonight, Glenn Youngkin once again claimed that he believes that ‘parents matter.’ In reality he only cares about some parents. He does not care about parents of LGBTQ+ – particularly transgender – students, who have been consistently under attack in Virginia and across the country,” said Geoff Wetrosky, Campaign Director at the Human Rights Campaign. “He said that there is no room for bullying or harassment in Virginia’s schools, but his own policies only further marginalize and isolate transgender students, creating more stigma and more discrimination against an already vulnerable population. His extremist, anti-LGBTQ+ positions should have no place in Virginia, or this country.”

Earlier tonight, we released the following statement from HRC and Equality Virginia:

“In the runup to his likely Presidential run, Glenn Youngkin has shown himself to be an anti-LGBTQ+ extremist,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Kelley Robinson. “As a candidate and governor, he has repeatedly used his platform to promote anti-equality and anti-choice policies that are out of step with the views of everyday Virginians. His policies blatantly stigmatize and isolate our most vulnerable children. We hope and expect that CNN addresses Governor Youngkin’s anti-LGBTQ+ history and show how out of step his views are with the majority of Virginians and Americans.”
“Tonight, Gov. Glenn Youngkin will attempt to sell his leadership in Virginia to a national audience, but LGBTQ+ Virginians know better than to take his platitudes at face value, ” said Narissa Rahaman, Executive Director of Equality Virginia. “Time and time again, Gov. Youngkin has targeted LGBTQ+ Virginians. He reversed existing, working policies and singled out a small population of vulnerable students for discrimination. This year, the Virginia General Assembly introduced the most anti-trans bills in its history, entirely from legislators in the governor's political party. The Governor is using transgender and nonbinary youth as a wedge issue to raise his profile. His track record is clear on this issue and it is clearly extreme. LGBTQ+ Virginians deserve better from Youngkin, and we hope viewers will not be taken in by his empty promises and attempts to change the conversation.”

So far in 2023, HRC is tracking more than 400 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have been introduced in statehouses across the country. 175 of those would specifically restrict the rights of transgender people, the highest number of bills targeting transgender people in a single year to date.

So far this year, HRC is tracking:

  • 100 bills that would prevent trans youth from being able to access age-appropriate, medically-necessary, best-practice health care; four have already become law, in Tennessee, Mississippi, South Dakota, and Utah,

  • More bathroom ban bills filed than in any previous year,

  • 80 curriculum censorship bills and 30 anti-drag performance bills.

These bills aren’t popular and are not driven by constituent demand. These bills are part of a coordinated effort driven by well-funded, powerful interests and promoted by a tight network of anti-LGBTQ+ forces – including the Heritage Foundation, SPLC-designated hate group Alliance Defending Freedom, and Focus on the Family – who often write and lobby for passage of carbon copy bills in as many states as possible. These groups peddle in fear and pit people against each other to marginalize and punish LGBTQ+ people and especially transgender children.

Youngkin Introduced Policy That Rolled Back The Rights Of Transgender Students

Youngkin Ordered 133 School Districts To Adopt Policy That Would Prohibit Transgender Students From Using The Correct Bathrooms Or Participating On The Correct Sports Teams. “Youngkin’s administration this weekend unveiled a new directive restricting the rights of transgender students in schools, ordering all 133 school districts to adopt policies that would require transgender students to use facilities and participate in activities corresponding with their sex assigned at birth. It would also bar students from changing their names or pronouns at school without parental permission, putting Virginia at the center of a national debate about the relationships between schools and parents when it comes to kids’ gender identities.” [Washington Post, 9/22/22]

Students Performed Walk Out To Protest Youngkin’s Anti-Transgender Policy. “The draft transgender school policy, generally requiring schools to treat students by their biological sex instead of their gender identity and emphasizing parents' role, prompted a walkout by students in parts of Virginia on Tuesday in protest. Youngkin said that's good. "I applaud the exercising of our First Amendment rights," he said. "It's a really important moment for us." He said the draft policies do not allow transgender students to be bullied or discriminated against but require their parents to be involved in decisions their children are making instead of being excluded from those discussions at schools. "If parents make a decision that they would like accommodations for their children, they will have them," he said.” [Richmond Times Dispatch, 9/29/22]

Governor Youngkin’s Anti-LGBTQ+ History

On First Day Of Pride Month, Youngkin Supported A Teacher Who Was Suspended For Refusing To Use The Preferred Pronouns Of His Student. “Tanner Cross, a teacher with Loudoun County Public Schools in Virginia, said at a May 25 school board meeting that he opposes using students' preferred pronouns "because it would damage children and defile the holy image of God." "I'm a teacher, but I serve God first, and I will not affirm that a biological boy can be a girl, and vice versa, because it is against my religion, it's lying to a child, it's abuse to a child, and it is sinning against our God," Cross said. He has since been suspended by the school board. Appearing on Fox News Primetime on Monday, Youngkin said that Cross was being denied his constitutional rights and that he was standing up for the "best interest" of students in his district. "What we're seeing right here, right now in Loudon County is the liberal left waging a cultural war and the victims are our children," Youngkin said. "As governor, I will stand for excellence in education, we will not teach critical race theory, and I will stand up for teachers and parents against these kinds of cancel culture initiatives," he added. Youngkin said that if he is elected, "I'll have [Cross'] back" and called on the school board to reinstate Cross.” [American Independent, 6/1/21]

Youngkin Supported Reinstatement Of Teacher Who Was Suspended For Refusing To Use Student’s Preferred Pronouns. [@GlennYoungkin, 6/8/21]

Youngkin Wants Transgender Girls to be Treated as 'Biological Boys' “I think second of all, the idea that these particular decisions with regards to children who are really trying to make some very tough decisions in their lives, first are going to exclude parents, and then second of all are going to rely on folks that may not share the family's values in those decisions, I just think this is just fundamentally wrong,” Youngkin told 7News' Minock. “We need to meet every child where they are. We need to respect every child, we need to love every child and understand the difficulties of these decisions. And how in the world could you not involve parents in that process? Finally, I don't think that biological boys should be playing sports with biological girls. I don't think that locker rooms should be locker rooms where a child can choose which one to go into.” [WJLA, 3/6/22]

Youngkin Opposed Transgender-Inclusive Athletics The Republican nominee in the Virginia gubernatorial race on Monday once again said he does not support allowing transgender children to play on sports teams that are consistent with their gender identity. John Fredericks, who co-chaired former President Trump’s 2016 campaign in Virginia, asked Glenn Youngkin during an appearance on “Outside the Beltway with John Fredericks” about “the radical transgender policies that have been signed by this governor.” “As governor are you going to allow male students to participate in girls’ high school athletics and shower with them?” asked Fredericks. “No and this again … we’ve just lost our whole sense of common sense,” responded Youngkin. “For years the Democrats were, in fact, supporting Title IX, which is to provide women in high school sports the same opportunities that men have and that’s absolutely been such a good effort in order to bring balance in to high school sports and college sports,” he continued. “And now all of a sudden, this whole concept that we’re going to allow biological men to compete with biological women in high school sports. It just doesn’t make any sense, and so no we’re just not going to allow that.” Youngkin, the former co-CEO of the Carlyle Group, earlier this month won the Republican Party of Virginia’s nomination convention. He told a group of voters in Arlington earlier this year that “biological males should not be allowed to play sports in girls sports.” Youngkin is widely expected to face former Gov. Terry McAuliffe — the frontrunner in the June 8 Democratic party — in the general election.” [Washington Blade, 5/26/21]

Youngkin Expressed Support For “License To Discriminate” Laws. [@GlennYoungkin Twitter, 4/26/21]

Youngkin Declined To Support Marriage Equality. “In an interview, Youngkin said his faith impresses on him the importance of loving others and informs his view that the deeply divided country needs to come back together. Asked in the same interview whether his faith shapes his view of same-sex marriage, Youngkin responded with a vagueness common in his answers to questions about policy. He reiterated that he feels “called to love everyone.” Pressed on whether that was intended to convey support for same-sex marriage, he responded: “No,” before saying that gay marriage was “legally acceptable” in Virginia and that “I, as governor, will support that.” The interview, the first Youngkin’s campaign had granted to The Associated Press since he won the nomination, was cut off by campaign aides when the subject turned to his policy positions.” [Associated Press, 10/22/21]

Youngkin Refused To Say If He Supported Marriage Equality. “Asked where he differs from his party, Mr. Youngkin did not offer up any specific issue but said his emphasis was on jobs, schools and public safety. Yet he called his politics “conservative,” declined to say whether he supported same-sex marriage and answered a question about background checks for gun purchases by criticizing more aggressive restrictions.” [New York Times, 6/10/21]

Anti-Transgender Legislation in Virginia

This session, Equality Virginia and HRC tracked over two dozen anti-LGBTQ+ bills that directly targeted LGBTQ+ people, and in particular, transgender Virginians. Here’s a brief summary of the 12 transgender-related bills that were introduced this year in Virginia, all of which are now dead:

  • SB791, SB1203, and SB960 (gender-affirming healthcare ban): These bills would prohibit healthcare professionals from providing or referring transgender teenagers for life saving, age-appropriate health care. It also erodes current protections prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity in health insurance and requiring coverage of gender affirming care for adults by making that coverage optional.

  • HB1387, HB1399, SB911, SB962, and SB1186 (trans athlete ban): These bills would ban transgender students from participating in sports teams that match their gender identity and discriminate against them based on harmful myths about trans athletes.

  • HB1707 (forced outing): HB1707 would require school counselors and all school staff to forcibly “out” trans students to their parents, regardless of the safety of their home. It would lead to further stigmatization and harm of trans youth.

  • HB2432 (forced outing): In addition to the dangerous forced outing similar to HB1707, HB2432 seeks to narrow the legal definition of “abuse and neglect” when it is applied to trans kids.

  • HB1434 (forced outing): HB1434 would require a court order to change a student's name on any school record. Such a requirement is unnecessary and risks creating a hostile learning environment.

  • HB2170 (forced outing) would require parental consent and notification whenever a student participates in a school club, such as a Gender-Sexuality Alliance or Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club. In effect, it would deter youth from joining certain school clubs out of fear of being outed.

Support from Anti-LGBTQ+ Groups

American Principles Project Ran Ads Supporting Youngkin’s Campaign For Governor

American Principles Project PAC Launched An Ad Supporting Youngkin. “On Wednesday, the American Principles Project PAC launched a new ad campaign targeting McAuliffe. The latest push from Republicans illustrates how education has become a critical issue for the party in the state, while McAuliffe and his Democratic allies focus on the issues of vaccine mandates, abortion and tying Youngkin to Trump. “It’s like a perfect storm,” said Terry Schilling, the president of the American Principles Project PAC. “You couldn’t write a script better to motivate nontraditional Republican voters, swing voters and independents to vote Republican.”” [The Hill, 10/8/21]

“Chairman And Chief Underwriter” Of Anti-LGBTQ+ American Principles Project Sean Fieler Donated $7,500 To Youngkin. [Virginia Public Access Project]

Since 2014, Sean Fieler Donated Approximately $1.5M To The Campaign For American Principles. [FEC.gov, accessed 9/23/19]

In 2019-2020, Fieler Donated $200K To American Principles Project PAC. [FEC.gov, accessed 5/13/21]

Family Research Council Endorsed Youngkin

Family Research Council Endorsed Glenn Youngkin For Governor. “An anti-LGBTQ group on Friday endorsed Glenn Youngkin. “This fall, Virginia voters are faced with a stark contrast between the two candidates vying for governor,” said Family Research Council Action President Tony Perkins in a press release that Youngkin’s campaign released. “As a former governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe has assembled a lengthy track record of extreme, far-left positions. McAuliffe has been endorsed by Gov. Ralph Northam, who made comments in support of infanticide, and McAuliffe supported legislation allowing abortion at the moment a baby is born. When he was recently asked to name an abortion restriction he supports, McAuliffe said he supports any kind of abortion at any stage of a baby’s development.” [Washington Blade, 10/9/21]

The Facts About LGBTQ+ Youth

LGBTQ+ youth are not inherently prone to suicide risk because of their sexual orientation or gender identity but rather placed at higher risk because of how they are mistreated and stigmatized in society.

In particular, schools have increasingly become a battleground for debates around respecting students’ identities and pronouns, censoring LGBTQ-inclusive curriculums, and banning books.

  • New policies that require schools to tell a student’s parent or guardian if they request to use a different name/pronoun, or if they identify as LGBTQ+ at school make 67% of transgender and nonbinary youth feel angry, 54% feel stressed, 51% feel scared, 46% feel nervous, and 43% feel sad.

  • 58% of LGBTQ+ youth, including 71% of transgender and nonbinary youth, feel angry about new policies that ban teachers from discussing LGBTQ+ topics in the classroom. Among trans youth, 59% feel sad and 41% feel stressed.

  • 66% of LGBTQ+ youth, including 80% of transgender and nonbinary youth, feel angry about policies that will ban books in school libraries that discuss LGBTQ+ topics. Nearly half of LGBTQ+ youth, including 54% of trans youth, also felt sad about these book bans.

Access to Affirming Homes & Schools

  • LGBTQ+ youth who lived in an accepting community, had access to LGBTQ+-affirming spaces, and/or felt high social support from family and friends reported significantly lower rates of attempting suicide in the past year.

  • LGBTQ+ youth who live in a community that is accepting of LGBTQ+ people reported significantly lower rates of attempting suicide compared to those who do not

Forcibly disclosing a student’s sexual and gender identity puts them at risk, given the high rates of familial rejection in the LGBTQ+ community:

  • Fewer than 1 in 3 transgender and nonbinary youth found their home to be gender-affirming (Trevor Project 2022 National Survey, Page 4)

  • Only 25 percent of LGBTQ+ youth can be fully out at their homes, and 67% of LGBTQ youth hear their families make negative comments about LGBTQ people (Human Rights Campaign)

  • Queer people who reported familial rejection were 8.4 times more likely to report having attempted suicide (Caitlin Ryan, David Huebner, Rafael M Diaz, Jorge Sanchez, 2009)

  • 28% of LGBTQ+ youth reported experiencing homelessness or housing instability at some point in their lives. A leading cause of this homelessness if parental rejection: 47 percent of LGBTQ+ youth who have experienced housing instability report that they were kicked out of their home (Trevor Project)

  • LGBTQ+ youth are at more than double the risk of homelessness compared to non-LGBTQ+ peers (Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago)
    • 46 percent of homeless LGBTQ+ youths ran away because of family rejection of their sexual orientation or gender identity; 43 percent were forced out by parents, and 32 percent faced physical, emotional or sexual abuse at home (Williams Institute)

Proper Use of Pronouns and Name:

Using a chosen name in just one context can result in a 29% decrease in suicidal ideation and a 56% decrease in suicidal behavior among transgender students (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29609917/)

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