PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — “Children don’t belong to the state; they belong to families,” was a statement that Governor Glenn Youngkin made last month while visiting the Hispanic business community in Virginia Beach. Youngkin would go on to use that catchy line over and over in various appearances around the Commonwealth.

At midnight on October 26, 2022, the public comment period ends for parents, students, and concerned citizens who desire to weigh in on his controversial proposal.

Under the Youngkin plan, parents will have a say in how transgender children are treated in the use of names, pronouns and activities in public schools.

Youngkin calls his approach “Parents Matter.” But a critic, Atif Qarni, the former Education Secretary of Virginia, says words matter. Qarni told 10 On Your side schools can, and have, opted out of the 2022 guidelines on transgender children.

“The policies don’t have to be adopted by any school divisions; they can reject them. One of the things I did not appreciate is how it was framed that it had to be a mandate and school divisions had to follow,” Qarni said.

Youngkin also used the same approach when addressing the CDC’s recommendation on COVID-19 vaccines. In a tweet last week, Youngkin falsely called the recommendation a mandate.

“This political environment is very toxic; it’s adversarial what the governor is doing. It’s a bullying environment and it does have an impact on all children,” Qarni said.

Regina Mobley: Did you say the governor is creating a bullying environment? Is that the word you used?

Atif Qarni: In my opinion, yes, he is. What happens is you see school board meetings, for example, you see a lot of angry parents shouting and yelling at school board members.

In response to Qarni’s remarks, Youngkin’s spokesperson, Macaulay Porter issued a statement.

“Under [Qarni’s] leadership, the former secretary of education made decisions that led to this week’s devastating NAEP math and reading scores where Virginia’s students plummeted in the national rankings. Virginia Democrats are still in favor of same the big government, business crushing, and school closing edicts that damaged the Commonwealth. As the governor has continuously reiterated, in Virginia, parents matter.”

Macaulay Porter, Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s Spokesperson

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