Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) called for gender-neutral bathrooms in schools on Thursday, in response to a town hall question from a transgender Virginia teenager.
“Look at me. I am a transgender man,” Niko, a 17-year-old from Arlington, Va., said at a CNN town hall. “Do you really think that the girls in my high school would feel comfortable sharing a restroom with me?”
Youngkin, who issued a series of restrictive guidelines to Virginia schools last fall related to transgender students, said on Thursday that it was important to accommodate students.
“That’s why I have said many, many times, we just need extra bathrooms in schools,” he said. “We need gender-neutral bathrooms and so people can use the bathroom that they, in fact, are comfortable with.”
Youngkin’s guidelines would require transgender students to participate in activities and use school facilities that align with the sex they were assigned at birth, although single-user bathrooms and facilities are also meant to be made available. It would also make it more difficult for students to change their name or gender presentation at school.
However, the suggestion that transgender students can use gender-neutral bathrooms in response to such restrictions faces legal challenges elsewhere in the country.
Several transgender students in Oklahoma are suing the state over such a policy, which required them to use “a single-occupancy restroom or changing room” if they declined to use facilities matching their sex assigned at birth under a new law.
Youngkin generally doubled down on several of his controversial education policies at the town hall, including barring transgender athletes from participating in sports that match their gender identity and forbidding the instruction of “inherently divisive concepts, including critical race theory,” which is an academic framework that examines the influence of racism on institutions.
Updated: 10:52 p.m.