Thousands of middle and high school students in Virginia recently walked out of class to protest the governor’s decision to reverse protections for transgender people.
The decision set by Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin mandates students to use bathrooms, locker rooms, names and pronouns based on their high school records.
The new policy makes it difficult for transgender students to identity as themselves which could be harmful as the students will be misgendered, denamed, and potentially inquire excessive bullying.
“Revoking (transgender protections) now would be like dialing back the clock. It’d be like telling students, ‘we don’t really care, you’re not really who you believe yourself to be,'” Andrea-Grace Mukuna, 16, told USA TODAY.
The protest follows a nationwide issue of schools implementing anti-LGBTQ policies among the youth in schools such as the Florida “Don’t Say Gay” law that was presented earlier this year.
Many say the policy violates the Virginia Human Rights Act, which protects individuals from discrimination on gender identity in public settings including schools.
Some students say the policy prioritizes parents over the children. In this case, some children are raised in households that aren’t as accepting and possibly even abusive.
“I know a lot of people who aren’t out to their parents, and they’re terrified of what that’s going to do to their entire family and their home life. It would change their world, it would turn it upside down,” Brown told NBC 29.
Youngkin spokeswoman Macaulay Porter commented in a statement how the involvement of parents will help schools “accommodate the requests of children and their families.”
“The guidelines make it clear that when parents are part of the process, schools will accommodate the requests of children and their families. Parents should be a part of their children’s lives, and it’s apparent through the public protests and on-camera interviews that those objecting to the guidance already have their parents as part of that conversation,” said Porter in a statement according to The Washington Post. “While students exercise their free speech today, we’d note that these policies state that students should be treated with compassion and schools should be free from bullying and harassment.
As students continue to protest against the policy, many are wondering about the future of their schools and lives.
“As a closeted student, I wouldn’t be able to come home if my parents found out that I was Queer,” an anonymous student said in a press release from the Pride Liberation Project. “I am terrified that these draft regulations will take away one of the few places I can just be myself.”