Former Democratic Governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, who is in a race once again for governor, said on Tuesday night that he is against parental control of a child’s education: “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” His comments came during a debate against Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin.
During the debate, the candidates were asked about their support of the Virginia Department of Education’s controversial gender policy which would allow students to use the locker rooms and restrooms of their chosen gender identity, as well as require teachers to use the student’s preferred pronouns.
McAuliffe, who has promised he will implement the gender policy if elected, said that local school districts should have input and also take the state’s guidance on the issue.
Youngkin stated that local school districts should have autonomy to make these decisions, but parents should be involved, as well. Youngkin supported the need for parental oversight by citing a recent Fairfax County, VA incident where two books with sexual content, including one that “contains explicit illustrations of sexual encounters involving children,” are under review after a parent complaint.
At the end of his statement, Youngkin addressed McAuliffe directly, “You believe school systems should tell children what to do. I believe parents should be in charge of their kids’ education,” to which McAuliffe replied, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
Youngkin’s statement and McAuliffe’s response can be heard at the 27:03 mark of the livestream recording:
[Youngkin]: With regard to our kids in schools, we are called to love everyone. … And I agree with your conclusion, Terry, that we should let local school districts actually make these decisions but we must ask them to include concepts of safety, privacy, and respect in the discussion. And we must demand that they include parents in this dialogue. What we’ve seen over the course of the last 20 months is our school systems refusing to engage with parents. In fact, in Fairfax County this past week, we watched parents so upset because there was such sexually explicit material in the library they had never seen, it was shocking. And in fact, you vetoed the bill that would have informed parents that [the books] were there. You believe school systems should tell children what to do. I believe parents should be in charge of their kids’ education.
[McAuliffe]: …The parents had the right to veto books [in the bill]…also take them off the shelves. And I’m not going to let parents come into schools and take books out and make their own decisions. Yeah, I stopped the bill. …I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.