Lawsuit dropped after school board changes course, adopts Youngkin’s transgender student policy

Oct 18, 2023, 12:50 PM

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A Washington-based attorney confirmed Wednesday his firm was dropping litigation it filed last month regarding Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s new policies on transgender students because the school board his firm sued has since adopted guidelines consistent with the governor’s.

But the firm could potentially still bring other litigation in districts that are bucking the administration’s guidance, said Charles Cooper of Cooper & Kirk, which is widely known for its work on conservative legal causes.

Attorneys from the firm represented two parents who sued the Virginia Beach School Board seeking the enforcement of Youngkin’s policies, which roll back many accommodations for transgender students urged by the previous Democratic administration.

The policies have prompted an outcry from LGBTQ advocates and Democratic lawmakers, who say they codify discrimination and could harm an already vulnerable population. Republicans, religious groups and other advocates have praised the new policies, saying they protect the rights of parents in their children’s education.

The lawsuit was filed after a proposed Virginia Beach school board resolution to adopt the policies was introduced and failed in August. But the school board has since reconsidered, adopting policies the district says are consistent with the governor’s.

The plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the case this week, Cooper said.

“We applaud the Virginia Beach School Board for its action last week in adopting transgender policies that protect the rights of all parents and students,” the governor added in a statement.

The school district said in a statement provided by spokesperson David Schleck that the board’s vote was not related to any impending lawsuit involving the governor’s policies.

Under the new Youngkin administration guidelines, teachers and students have the right to refer to a transgender student by the name and pronouns associated with their sex assigned at birth. The policies also say that students who are minors must be referred to by the names and pronouns in their official records unless a parent approves the use of something else.

The policies call for school systems’ sports teams to be organized by the sex assigned at birth, meaning that transgender girls would be unable to participate on girls’ sports teams. And they say school divisions may not encourage teachers to conceal information about a student’s gender from his or her parents.

The Virginia Beach School Board had “grappled” with the model policies since their approval in mid-July, trying to reach consensus on meeting the community’s needs while following the administration’s guidance, the district’s statement said.

The revised regulations, which are “consistent” with the governor’s, will go into effect at the start of the second quarter grading period, Nov. 8, according to the statement.

Youngkin and Republican Attorney General Jason Miyares have said school boards must adopt the new rules. But the state law that required the administration to proffer the guidelines is silent on enforcement.

The model policies developed by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration were greeted favorably by advocates for transgender students, but many school boards did not adopt them. At the time, the Department of Education told school districts failing to comply that they assumed all legal risks for noncompliance.

As under the Northam administration, school boards across the state have taken varied approaches to Youngkin’s guidance. Some have adopted the policies while others, particularly in more liberal jurisdictions, have not.

Cooper said he couldn’t say with certainty that his law firm would file suit elsewhere. But he said he suspected there would be other schools boards that are “more dug in on revisiting the model policies” and that his firm would be ready to assist.

National News

Associated Press

US House Judiciary Committee chair seeks details from ATF on airport director shooting

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The chair of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on Monday asked the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to provide documents and information about its raid at the home last month of the Little Rock airport director who was died after a shootout with agents serving a search warrant. […]

25 minutes ago

Associated Press

Minnesota state senator arrested on suspicion of burglary

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A state senator and former broadcast meteorologist was arrested on suspicion of burglary early Monday in the northwestern Minnesota city of Detroit Lakes, police said. Democratic Sen. Nicole Mitchell, 49, of Woodbury, was being held in the Becker County Jail on suspicion of first-degree burglary. Formal charges were still pending Monday afternoon, […]

46 minutes ago

Associated Press

William Strickland, a longtime civil rights activist, scholar and friend of Malcom X, has died

BOSTON (AP) — William Strickland, a longtime civil rights activist and supporter of the Black Power movement who worked with Malcom X and other prominent leaders in the 1960s, has died. He was 87. Strickland, whose death April 10 was confirmed by a relative, first became active in civil rights as a high schooler in […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Insider Q&A: Trust and safety exec talks about AI and content moderation

Alex Popken was a longtime trust and safety executive at Twitter focusing on content moderation before leaving in 2023. She was the first employee there dedicated to moderating Twitter’s advertising business when she started in 2013. Now, she’s vice president of trust and safety at WebPurify, a content moderation service provider that works with businesses […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Lawsuit alleges negligence in hiring of maintenance man accused of torturing resident

BALTIMORE (AP) — April Hurley’s attacker entered her apartment after identifying himself as the building maintenance man — a job he should never have obtained, according to a lawsuit filed Monday that accuses the property owner and management company of engaging in negligent hiring practices. Once inside the apartment, Jason Billingsley tortured Hurley and her […]

4 hours ago

Photo: Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump sits in the courtroom at...

Michael R. Sisak, Jennifer Peltz, Eric Tucker and Jake Offenhartz, The Associated Press

Trump tried to ‘corrupt’ the 2016 election, prosecutor alleges as hush money trial gets underway

Trump tried to illegally influence the 2016 election by preventing damaging stories about himself from becoming public, a prosecutor said.

4 hours ago

Lawsuit dropped after school board changes course, adopts Youngkin’s transgender student policy