Who is Glenn Youngkin? Where does he stand on LGBTQ+ rights?

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Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) Photo: Shutterstock

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has supported numerous policies attacking LGBTQ+ students under the guise of so-called “parents’ rights” in education. While he claims that such policies are necessary to ensure that parents have input over school policies regarding child development, critics say that Youngkin’s policies threaten the safety and well-being of queer youth.

Glenn Youngkin At a Glance

  • Location: Great Falls, Virginia
  • Party Affiliation: Republican
  • Race/Ethnicity: White
  • Gender Identity: Male
  • Sexual Orientation: Straight
  • Pronouns: He/Him
  • LGBTQ+ Ally: No

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Glenn Allen Youngkin — born in Richmond, Virginia on December 9, 1966 — attended Rice University on a basketball scholarship and graduated from the school in 1990 with a Bachelor of Arts in managerial studies and a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering. He graduated from Harvard Business School in 1994 with a Master of Business Administration degree.

He worked in the fields of capital market financing, mergers, and acquisitions for the investment bank First Boston in 1990 and for the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company in 1994. He worked for the private equity firm The Carlyle Group from 1995 to 2020. During that time, he worked for its U.S. and U.K. buyout teams, its global industrial sector investment team, and its operating and executive committees, and also served at various points as its president, chief financial officer, chief operating officer, and co-chief executive officer.

Youngkin announced his candidacy for Virginia’s governorship in January 2021 and largely self-financed his $5.5 million primary campaign. He won the Republican primary in May 2021 and was endorsed by former President Donald Trump. He was elected as Virginia’s governor in November 2021 and has served in the office since January 15, 2022.

He is married to Suzanne Schulze, and they have four children.

Youngkin’s stance on LGBTQ+ issues

Youngkin’s 2021 gubernatorial election campaign’s main platform was for so-called “parents’ rights” in education, something that Republicans have since copied in states and local school districts nationwide. Parents’ rights advocates seek to shut down racially- and LGBTQ+-inclusive learning environments, calling such inclusion a form of “woke indoctrination.”

Same-sex marriage

In an October 2021 interview with the Associated Press, Youngkin said he didn’t personally support same-sex marriage, but said it was “legally acceptable” in Virginia and, thus, he would support the law as governor.

In a July 2022 interview, he claimed that same-sex marriage was “protected” in Virginia. However, the state has a ban on same-sex marriage that would immediately go back into effect if a future U.S. Supreme Court ever overturned same-sex marriage rights nationwide.

In December 2022, he said he was “disappointed” that the federal Respect for Marriage Act — which requires federal and state governments to recognize same-sex and interracial marriages performed by other states — didn’t include enhancements to strengthen and protect the First Amendment rights and religious freedoms of those who oppose same-sex marriage.

Trans children in sports

In a March 2023 CNN town hall, Youngkin said, “I don’t think biological boys should be playing sports with biological girls. There’s been decades of efforts in order to gain opportunities for women in sports. And it’s just not fair. And I think that’s non-controversial and something that is pretty well understood.”

The Virginia High School League (VHSL), the body that oversees the state’s public school sports programs, allows trans students to play on teams matching their gender identity as long as they get a VHSL waiver.

Transgender access to public bathrooms

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) under Youngkin has rewritten the state’s policies on transgender youths at public schools. The revised policies require students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match the sex that they were at birth, not their gender identity.

Youngkin believes that when schools accommodate trans students, it violates the rights of parents to have input in their child’s development. “The VDOE updated model policies reaffirm my administration’s continued commitment to ensure that every parent is involved in conversations regarding their child’s education, upbringing, and care,” Youngkin said.

A trans male student asked Youngkin in a March 2023 CNN Town Hall whether he thought that cisgender females would feel comfortable using the same bathroom as him. In response, Youngkin didn’t answer the question. Instead, he said, “We need gender-neutral bathrooms so people can use a bathroom that they, in fact, are comfortable with,”

Don’t say gay/LGBTQ+ discussions in schools

In February 2022, Youngkin signed S.B. 656, a law that requires Virginia school principals to notify parents about any “sexually explicit” content in any teacher’s curriculum. Virginia state law’s definition of “sexually explicit” used to include “actual or explicitly simulated acts of homosexuality,” however, in August 2023, homosexuality was removed from the definition.

Discriminations protections

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) under Youngkin has rewritten the state’s policies on transgender youths at public schools to force trans and nonbinary students to use bathrooms, pronouns, and names that align with their sex assigned at birth rather than their gender identity.

Youngkin has claimed that these policies are necessary to ensure that parents remain involved with their children’s development in schools. He also supports policies that would out trans students to their parents. However, critics have said that all of these policies infringe upon students’ rights and threaten their safety and well-being.

Other LGBTQ+ issues

In July 2023, Youngkin removed suicide prevention resources for LGBTQ+ youth from the Virginia Department of Health’s website.

Youngkin’s career

  • Graduated Rice University with a B.A. in managerial studies and B.S. in mechanical engineering in 1990
  • Worked for the investment bank First Boston in 1990
  • Graduated Harvard Business School with a Master of Business Administration degree in 1994
  • Worked for the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company in 1994
  • Worked for the private equity firm The Carlyle Group as a team member, president, CFO, COO, and co-CEO from 1995 to 2020
  • Elected as Virginia’s governor in November 2021

In conclusion

Youngkin’s attacks on LGBTQ+ students have sadly provided a blueprint for other Republicans and conservatives to promote similar policies in their own states and school districts.

Stay informed about his career by subscribing to the LGBTQ Nation newsletter.

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