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Del. Adele McClure at a press conference calling for tighter firearm restrictions for abusers (staff photo by Dan Egitto)

Two local lawmakers who spearheaded bills to limit domestic abusers’ access to firearms blasted recent vetoes of that legislation at a press conference today (Thursday).

Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) last month struck down bills from State Sen. Barbara Favola and Del. Adele McClure that would have strengthened existing gun control laws around people who have physically attacked family members and romantic partners.

The Democratic legislators, who represent parts of Arlington, decried these decisions at a meeting hosted in Ballston by Doorways and the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance — two groups that additionally criticized budget amendments that shrank victim service providers’ funding by $7.4 million.

“A woman who is in a situation of domestic violence [where] a firearm is present is five times more likely to die,” Favola said. “This is a matter of life and death.”

McClure said, “I cannot possibly think of a valid reason for vetoing a bill that would close a lethal loophole and save so many lives.”

People convicted of assaulting members of their family or household are currently banned from owning guns in Virginia.

However, state law does not extend to people who have attacked romantic partners — a limit sometimes known as the “boyfriend loophole.” The law also allows people convicted of assaulting family members to hand over their firearms to a member of their household.

Youngkin argued that closing these exceptions could cause “inadvertent compromises to public safety.”

“The legislation fails to achieve its intended purpose and is unnecessary,” he said in a veto statement. “The existing legal framework addresses firearm possession in cases of domestic abuse.”

McClure, who sponsored a bill to expand state law to include dating or intimate partners, called the governor’s decision “a deadly veto.”

“It is evident that Gov. Glenn Youngkin does not trust women, he does not care to protect women and he does not have the interests of women and survivors around the Commonwealth in mind,” she said.

Favola, meanwhile, sponsored legislation that would have prevented abusers from giving their guns to people who reside in their household or who are under 21. She called it a “common-sense measure” introduced because she heard from constituents about people failing to actually surrender their firearms.

“I wanted to ensure that our current law was followed and I wanted to ensure that women and families were safe,” she said.

Both McClure and Favola intend to continue advocating for their bills in the next legislative session.

Doorways and the Action Alliance also argued in a press release that the state budget should have included more funding for agencies that serve victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and child trafficking. Federal funding for these programs has shrunk by 47.5% in the last five years, making them more reliant on state funding, according to Action Alliance Policy Director Jonathan Yglesias.

“Governor Youngkin’s decision to veto these bills and cut millions of dollars from agencies providing vital services to crime victims demonstrates just how out of touch he is with the needs of women and communities across Virginia,” Yglesias said.

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Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin in Tysons in 2022 (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Two key pieces of legislation backed by one of Arlington’s state senators got the ax in Richmond last week.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) on Thursday vetoed bills that would have legalized the sale of retail marijuana in Virginia and raised the state’s minimum wage. State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D), who represents part of Arlington and Fairfax County as well as Alexandria, co-sponsored both bills.

He told ARLnow that he is “disappointed but not surprised” and sees no reason to believe Youngkin will change his mind in future years.

“We need a Democratic governor to sign these bills,” the senator said.

The minimum wage bill would have boosted Virginia’s minimum wage from $12 an hour to $15 an hour by 2026. Youngkin argued in a veto statement that striking down the increase protects small businesses in parts of Virginia outside of the D.C. suburbs.

“The free market for salaries and wages works,” the governor said. “It operates dynamically, responding to the nuances of varying economic conditions and regional differences. This wage mandate imperils market freedom and economic competitiveness.”

A minimum wage increase “may not impact Northern Virginia, where economic conditions create a higher cost of living,” Youngkin added.

Sens. Jennifer Boysko and Saddam Salim, who represent parts of Fairfax County, were among several Democrats to throw their weight behind this bill in addition to Ebbin. They called Youngkin’s veto a loss for lower-income people everywhere in the state.

“I find Governor Youngkin’s decision to veto the minimum wage increase deeply disappointing and detrimental to the well-being of workers and struggling families across Virginia,” said Salim, who also represents Fairfax City and Falls Church. “Our current minimum wage is not a living wage, particularly here in Northern Virginia.”

Boysko, for her part, blamed Virginia’s workforce shortage on low wages. She argued that the current minimum wage forces many people to “scrounge for benefits” from the state and nonprofits.

“Many businesses are not paying a living wage,” Boysko said. “If employers cannot figure out how they would live on what they pay their employees, we have an economic problem and a moral problem.”

As for the marijuana bill, Youngkin pointed to adverse health effects associated with the substance. He argued that cannabis should have at least as many protections as drugs such as opioids.

“Attempting to rectify the error of decriminalizing marijuana by establishing a safe and regulated marketplace is an unachievable goal,” he said. “The more prudent approach would be to revisit the issue of discrepancies in enforcement, not compounding the risks and endangering Virginians’ health and safety with greater market availability.”

Ebbin and Sen. Aaron Rouse (D), who introduced the cannabis legislation, are among several panelists scheduled to speak at an Arlington Committee of 100 program on Wednesday, April 10 about the future of marijuana in Arlington. Rouse said the Virginia General Assembly “meticulously crafted” the cannabis bill over three years with safety in mind.

“This veto blocks a pivotal opportunity to advance public health, safety, and justice in our Commonwealth,” Rouse said in a press release. “By dismissing this legislation, the Governor is ignoring the will of the people and the extensive efforts of lawmakers to bring about a responsible and regulated approach to cannabis.”

Ebbin argued that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol and that preventing its legal sale only encourages people to turn to illegal sources.

“It’s an adult choice that some adults make, and we don’t need a black market,” he said.

Ebbin said both of Youngkin’s vetoes are out of touch with modern life.

“The governor doesn’t seem to recognize the realities of people living in the 21st century,” he said.

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After the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that embryos created via in vitro fertilization can be classified as children, Elizabeth Carr — the first U.S. baby born this way — set out to reveal the potential consequences of this decision.

At a gathering in Ballston today (Friday) — surrounded by advocates, doctors and those who conceived or were conceived via IVF — Carr underscored the existential threat the ruling could pose.

“IVF babies of my generation, I’ve noticed, are now having their own IVF journeys,” she said. “And so, for this segment of the population, you literally are telling us the way that we came into the world is not going to be how you’re going to be able to bring your own child into the world.”

The roundtable, hosted by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), addressed threats to IVF treatment and pathways to protecting this procedure. While some participants expressed concerns these treatments could be limited, like abortion, Kaine expressed optimism that Congress could pass legislation this year protecting access to IVF.

He said there is bipartisan interest in a standalone bill with broad protections for IVF as well as specific protections for military families in the defense bill.

“I think the kinds of discussions we’re having, the attention, and the momentum on the issue give us a real shot,” Kaine said.

Couples who cannot conceive naturally, particularly same-sex couples, already face an uphill battle to growing their families, said Jay Timmons, CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, who used IVF and surrogacy to have children with his partner.

“[Adoption] was pretty difficult for same sex couples,” said Timmons, a McLean resident. “We walked into it fairly naively and went through all the home checks and everything until the very wonderful social worker said, ‘Okay, I’m gonna put [Jay] down as the adopter, and I’m gonna put Rick down as your roommate.”

“And so we kind of processed that and said, ‘We’re not going to bring a child into our family under the pretence of a lie.'”

Kaine says Democrats are actively seeking support from Republican senators for the Access to Family Building Act, which he co-sponsored, guaranteeing access to IVF. Although Republicans blocked a vote on the bill last week, Kaine remains optimistic that it could surpass the 60-vote Senate threshold required for the bill’s passage.

“I wouldn’t want to pass this out of committee on an 11 to 10 vote,” he said. “I would want to pass it out on a real bipartisan vote, and I think we could do that.”

Should the comprehensive IVF bill stall, Kaine says Democrats could at least build protections for military families into the upcoming defense bill, potentially setting a precedent for future legislation.

“President [Harry] Truman, when he integrated the military in the 1940s, it set an example that then influenced the rest of society,” Kaine said. “If we do something in the defense bill for troops, their families, and veterans, I think it’ll send a powerful message that could then move us down the road toward broader protection.”

Last week, the Alabama state legislature approved a bill that shields IVF providers from civil lawsuits and criminal charges related to the destruction of damaged embryos. In Virginia, Republican lawmakers and Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who has advocated for limiting abortion access, have expressed support for safeguarding access to IVF treatments.

Kaine said people will not be fully protected unless Congress intervenes.

“I’m very concerned, and that’s why we need to do the federal bill because Alabama saying, ‘Okay, we will not criminally prosecute you,’ is not the same as saying, ‘We embrace IVF,’ and so it leaves a lot of gray areas,” he said.

“State legislatures could change every two years,” Kain continued. “State legislators are not doctors or scientists. They write bills that are vague, that make providers worry… Let’s just make it clear: that if you want to build your family through IVF, you can.”

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Supporters gather along Ft. Myer Drive in Rosslyn to greet former President Donald Trump on a visit to his campaign headquarters on Nov. 3, 2020 (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

On the eve of Super Tuesday, local party leaders, political consults and pundits on both sides of the aisle have already agreed on who the Republican and Democratic nominees for president will be.

One question lingering in the minds of many is whether the D.C. suburbs, including Arlington, can offer any indication of whether candidates are gaining or losing sufficient suburban voters to impact the general election.

“We had presidential election-style turnout in 2021 in Virginia, partly based on suburban voters in Northern Virginia and outside Richmond,” Arlington GOP Chair Matthew Hurtt told ARLnow. “Both campaigns will surely be focused on engaging and turning out those voters and, so we’ll see ads on abortion, we’ll see ads on things happening in our school system, and it’ll be up to them.”

When the polls open tomorrow (Tuesday) at 6 a.m., voters in Virginia and 14 other states will have the opportunity to cast their in-person ballots for the nominees of both major parties until the polls close at 7 p.m. Because Virginia operates an open primary system, registered voters are not required to cast their ballots according to party affiliation.

As of today (March 4), the following Republican and Democratic presidential candidates are on the ballot in Virginia:

  • Ryan Binkley (R)
  • Chris Christie (R)
  • Nikki Haley (R)
  • Gov. Ron DeSantis (R)
  • Vivek Ramaswamy (R)
  • Donald J. Trump (R)
  • President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D)
  • U.S. Rep. Dean Benson Phillips (D)
  • Marianne Williamson (D)

(Note: Republicans Chris Christie, Vivek Ramaswamy and Ron Desantis have suspended their respective campaigns but have not formally withdrawn from the race in Virginia.)

Despite the slim chances of a Republican presidential contender winning Arlington in the general election, Republicans are hoping that enough support from moderate Republicans and independents in D.C. suburbs could influence the general election outcome in Virginia.

No Republican candidate has captured a majority of the vote in Arlington County since Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980, according to county voting records. Since then, the political divide has only widened, with Arlington solidifying its reputation as a stronghold of liberal politics.

Nevertheless, local Republican leaders point to a slight uptick in Republican engagement in Arlington. Gov. Glenn Youngkin netted nearly 5,300 more votes in the November 2021 general election than Republican candidate Ed Gillespie received in 2017, an increase of nearly four percentage points, per voting records.

So far, early voting numbers suggest a low turnout for the upcoming primaries. Out of 158,145 registered voters, about 8,000 have already voted early, either in person or by mail. Of these, 5,689 were for Democratic candidates and 2,000 for Republican candidates, per the county’s Election Dashboard.

Local Republican campaign strategist Andrew Loposser says the lack of participation is likely a consequence of a lack of motivation among Republican voters, who are discouraged by the presence of a clear frontrunner.

“They don’t care that much because they know Trump is going to be the nominee,” he says.

Democratic party officials in nearby counties, including Fairfax, have also voiced concerns about voter turnout among Democrats. However, Arlington Democratic Committee Chair Steve Baker says he’s confident that the Democratic base will turn out to support Biden’s record and show opposition to his likely general election opponent, Trump.

“When we talk to voters, we see a lot of energy and excitement around all the accomplishments that Joe Biden has accomplished in the last four years,” Baker told ARLnow. “Whether it’s the [bipartisan] infrastructure bill, the Inflation Reduction Act, the PACT Act, CHIPS Act, student debt relief — up to $1.2 billion in student debt relief.

“And on the other side, we have a presumptive Republican nominee, who has said that he will be a dictator on day one and has taken credit for the Dobbs decision,” he continued.

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Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin swung by the new Peruvian Brothers restaurant in Pentagon City yesterday to sizzle some lomo saltado and rally support from the Hispanic community.

The Tuesday afternoon visit came ahead of the pivotal November election, with control of the Virginia legislature in the balance. Youngkin wasted no time getting behind the grill of the fast-casual Peruvian eatery, which opened earlier this month on the ground floor of the Amazon’s HQ2.

Almost as soon as he was escorted in by co-owner Giuseppe Lanzone, he donned an apron and started cooking. The governor then took a moment to celebrate Giuseppe and his brother Mario for successfully opening their second brick-and-mortar establishment.

Peruvian Brothers started out as an Alexandria-based food truck and catering business and has since expanded into D.C. and Arlington.

“As governor, it’s really important to me that we have a pro-small business environment so that, when entrepreneurial brothers want to start a restaurant, they do it in Virginia,” Youngkin said, speaking to a mix of locals, campaign aides and Peruvian Ambassador Gustavo Meza-Cuadra Velásquez.

The Republican governor also highlighted the importance of Virginia’s Latino population.

“I want to emphasize how important the Latino community is to Virginia. It is such a vibrant and important part of our Virginia, and to have so many Peruvian Virginians makes Virginia better,” he said.

Wrapping up the event, Youngkin urged attendees to cast their ballots in the upcoming election. The governor has been campaigning across the state for Republicans seeking local office and urging people to “vote early.”

“I want to encourage everyone, please, as we’re in the election season, go vote,” he said. “One of the important parts of being a Virginian is to cast your ballots and to participate in our democracy.”

After the Pentagon City stop Youngkin visited the Eden Center, just across the Arlington border in Falls Church, to meet with members of the local Asian-American community.

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Point of sale payment at a store (Photo by Blake Wisz on Unsplash)

Don’t be surprised if your receipt lacks a sales tax charge this weekend.

Starting Friday at 12:01 a.m. and running until midnight on Sunday, a variety of products, from school supplies to refrigerators, will be exempt from taxation during a three-day tax holiday.

Virginia shoppers can take advantage of this tax break on certain items categorized into three groups

School supplies, clothing, and footwear

  • Qualified school supplies under $20
  • Qualified clothing and footwear under $100

Hurricane and emergency preparedness products

  • Batteries, flashlights, bottled water and other preparedness supplies under $60
  • Portable generators under $1,000
  • Gas-powered chainsaws under $350

Energy Star™ and WaterSense™ products

  • Qualifying Energy Star™ or WaterSense™ products under $2,500 purchased for noncommercial home or personal use

These eligible products can be purchased both in physical stores and online, as well as through mail or telephone orders.

The three-day “holiday” traditionally falls in August. However, this year, it was postponed due to a delay in state lawmakers approving a spending bill, which was ultimately passed in September.

“As Virginians continue to face inflation and high prices, Virginians will receive some needed tax relief this weekend,” Gov. Glenn Youngkin said in a press release. “This sales tax holiday is an important measure to help Virginians keep more of their hard-earned money when purchasing essential school supplies, hurricane preparedness items, and clothing.”

Photo by Blake Wisz on Unsplash

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Gov. Glenn Youngkin at Boeing and Virginia Tech announcement in June 2022 (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Update on 11/29/22 — From the announcement:

Governor Glenn Youngkin today announced that Technomics, Inc., an employee-owned decision analysis company that specializes in cost analysis, data management, and data analytics, has invested $1.7 million to expand in Arlington County. The company is leasing an additional 10,000 square feet of space at 1225 South Clark Street to increase capacity. Virginia successfully competed with Maryland, DC, and California for the project, which will create 150 new jobs.

Earlier: Top state officials are coming to Arlington tomorrow for an unspecified “economic development announcement.”

“The Honorable Glenn Youngkin, Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, will join Arlington Economic Development and other state and local economic leaders on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022, for an economic development announcement,” Arlington County said in a media advisory today.

Joining the governor and local officials will be Caren Merrick, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade, as well as “leaders in Arlington’s technology and business community.”

The event is taking place Tuesday afternoon at 1225 S. Clark Street in Crystal City.

It is unclear what exactly is being announced. Arlington has been on a bit of a roll with landing major corporate headquarters, including the Nestle U.S. operations in 2017, Amazon’s HQ2 in 2018, and — this past summer, in successive months — aerospace and defense giants Boeing and Raytheon.

There have also been other notable developments specific to the Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard area — collectively known as National Landing — in the areas of higher education (Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus) and connectivity (a plan for ubiquitous 5G).

In June the governor announced in Arlington that Boeing was partnering with Virginia Tech on a “$50 million facility for military veterans transitioning to civilian life” at the new Innovation Campus, which is being built in the Potomac Yard area of Alexandria.

Arlington has been combatting a rise in office vacancies exacerbated by the pandemic and work-from-home trends.

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Police looking for evidence where shots were fired at officers along S. Wakefield Street in Barcroft (staff photo)

(Updated 4:45 p.m.) Gov. Glenn Youngkin has announced he’s increasing funds to police departments in a bid to reduce homicides, shootings and violent crime in Virginia.

The move, part of a new policy initiative from the Republican governor, will have implications for Arlington police, prosecutors and local restorative justice initiatives.

More than $100 million is slated to go toward state and local agencies to fix wage compression, increase recruiting efforts — including an expedited training program for police officers moving from one department to another — and provide more equipment and training, per a press release.

“The Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) has not been in touch with the Governor’s Office regarding yesterday’s announcement,” spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow.

While the impact on ACPD is still hazy, Arlington Coalition of Police President Randall Mason confirms ACPD’s struggles with recruitment, retention and pay compression, which were exclusively reported by ARLnow last year, mirror those highlighted in Youngkin’s announcement.

Although the 2023-24 budget will play “the biggest role” in staffing, he said, Mason projects that Youngkin’s sped-up, eight-week training academy could be a boon, as it would make it easier for officers to switch from Maryland and D.C. departments to Arlington’s.

“Getting more officers onto the street quicker would benefit both officers and the public,” he said. “ACPD could see a significant benefit from the lateral academy depending on what happens in the upcoming fiscal year.”

Of ACPD’s 377 authorized, sworn police officers, 278 are able to provide solo law enforcement services, Savage said. Sixty positions are unfilled and 39 officers are in a training or have light duty status.

The police department’s 16% vacancy rate is higher than almost all of ACPD’s regional competitors and that gap is poised to widen, Mason said.

“We are on pace to lose more officers than we hire for the second straight year, increasing our vacancy rate even further,” he said. “That is in spite of ACPD’s recruitment staff traveling all over the East Coast, up to 400 miles away, trying to find new officers.”

Recruitment and retention efforts in Arlington (via Arlington County)

Arlington’s 2022-23 budget includes merit-based increases, signing bonuses and work week reductions to try and address these challenges, but Mason says this doesn’t address another gripe officers have with pay — the county’s pay system.

Unlike other jurisdictions, which reward years of service with set pay increases, Arlington has an “open range” system where officers who have less seniority can end up getting paid more than an officer in their same rank, which is the case for a majority of ACOP members, he said.

“You don’t feel valued for the number of years you’ve been here, when someone who’s been here less time is making more than you,” he said.

Additionally, the hiring challenge comes down to the high cost of living.

“Arlington County is a very expensive place to live and work. Over 60% of ACOP members don’t live in the county,” he said. “It’s ACOP’s opinion that Arlington County’s failure to account for Arlington’s high cost of living is the main explanation for ACPD’s vacancy rate being higher than regional competitors.”

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Groups of Arlington Public Schools students walked out today (Tuesday) to protest model policies the Commonwealth says local school boards should adopt regarding the treatment of transgender children.

Released last week, the draft policies from the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), among other things, direct schools only to affirm a transgender student’s identity if parents request it. The document is perceived as a rebuttal to last year’s Democratic-led policies, which advised schools to affirm the child’s gender expression regardless of their family’s support.

In less than a week, a student-led LGBTQIA+ advocacy organization in Virginia mobilized kids across the state to protest the proposed revisions. The group said these changes would allow students and teachers to misgender transgender students while forcing those students to use restrooms corresponding to their sex assigned at birth.

In Arlington, walkouts were scheduled at Wakefield and Washington-Liberty high schools, the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program, and Thomas Jefferson and Kenmore middle schools, according to the student group, Pride Liberation Project.

A few dozen W-L teens gathered this morning in nearby Quincy Park (1021 N. Quincy Street), and some — including a few transgender students — made speeches and spoke to the media. The walkout was not school-sponsored, per an email to W-L parents.

“It’s just so bad. I don’t understand why [Gov. Glenn Youngkin] wants to bully these kids, including myself, I don’t see what’s so scary about using the name Matteo, using he/him pronouns, and why that threatens him so much, but it’s really sad that it does,” W-L junior Matteo Hope, a transgender boy, told ARLnow.

Mars Cirtain, a W-L junior, said politicians and family members cannot override how transgender students choose to express themselves.

“For a parent to tell a child that they are not the person they identify as is the same as their parents telling them, ‘You are not the person I raised you to be,'” Cirtain said. “It’s not about what your parents think you are, and it’s not about what your family thinks you can be. It’s about who you are and you get to decide that for yourself, not Gov. Youngkin, or your parents.”

Under the draft, teachers could not be compelled to use a student’s preferred pronouns, and students would use bathrooms and locker rooms corresponding to their sex assigned at birth. Schools would only accommodate students who identify as transgender at the written request of their parents. The document says these changes respect parents’ rights and beliefs and reverse Democrats’ attempts to “promot[e] a specific viewpoint aimed at achieving cultural and social transformation in schools.”

Waltz Fellone, W-L senior and a school organizer for Pride Liberation Project, told participants that Youngkin’s policies were “cruel and evil.”

“All of you have made a difference,” they said. “I know it may not feel like it because we are just a small school in Arlington. We might not even be affected by this, but it still means a lot.”

Generally, the W-L students in attendance expressed optimism that Arlington Public Schools would continue to affirm transgender students’ right to self-expression, with support from residents of Arlington, which runs deep blue. W-L junior Sophia Braier said she has “several” friends who would be affected by this decision if they lived in more conservative, rural areas.

“Beyond just protecting people here, we’re doing it to garner attention all over Virginia,” Braier said.

The walkout drew a large crowd at Wakefield this morning, according to Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-49), who posted about it on social media.

APS and neighbor Fairfax County Public Schools are adhering to their current policies while they review the updates, ARLnow previously reported. FCPS students also held walkouts at a number of schools today.

Yesterday (Monday) marked the start of a 30-day public comment period in which people can respond to the policies and potentially change VDOE’s approach. APS says it is currently reviewing the draft policies and would not take action until it has reviewed the final document.

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Men’s restroom sign at county office building at Sequoia Plaza (staff photo)

(Updated, 2:40 p.m.) Arlington Public Schools is “aware of and are reviewing” new draft policies handed down by the Commonwealth late last week regarding the rights of transgender students.

On Friday evening, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) released updated “model policies” directing local school boards to adopt a set of new policies relating to the treatment, rights, and actions of transgender students as well as who teachers are allowed to identify as transgender.

The guidelines, seen as a rebuttal to last year’s Democratic-led policies, are set to regulate everything from which bathroom a student can use to the meaning of “the phrase ‘transgender student’.”

In response this morning, APS released a statement saying that it is reviewing the guidelines and will continue to adhere to its own policies related to transgender students.

“APS will continue to uphold our core mission and policies to ensure that every child receives equal educational access and opportunities,” read the statement in part, which is co-signed by Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán and School Board Chair Reid Goldstein.

“We value the many diverse identities within our schools, where every student can authentically express themselves, including those in the LGBTQIA+ community,” the statement continued. “APS continues to take seriously the privilege and responsibility of working towards a shared understanding and mutual respect for all people.”

APS’s response also noted there’s a 30-day public comment period that begins Sept. 26 prior to the enactment of the new state-directed policies. APS spokesperson Frank Bellavia told ARLnow that VDOE could make changes to the policies in response to public comment.

“There is a 30-day public comment period, at which point the VDOE will review comments and make potential changes prior to posting a final document,” Bellavia wrote. “School divisions will need to then review the final document prior to any action.”

Fairfax County Public Schools are “thoroughly reviewing” the guidelines as well.

The new policies, under the administration of Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R), say that teachers and staff can identify as a transgender student only those whose parents provide written permission.

“The phrase ‘transgender student’ shall mean a public school student whose parent has requested in writing, due to their child’s persistent and sincere belief that his or her gender differs with his or her sex, that their child be so identified while at school,” says the guidelines.

Even if a parent does submit the required written request, however, it does not mean teachers and staff are required to use the student’s name or gender if the staff member believes it will violate their “constitutionally protected rights.”

The new policy has received backlash from some who say that this could result in students being misgendered, outed, and put in harmful situations. It also stands in contrast to APS’s policy first adopted in 2019, which says that students have the right to decide their own gender identity.

“Every student has the right to be addressed by names and pronouns that correspond to the student’s gender identity. Regardless of whether a transgender student has legally changed their name or gender, schools will allow students to use a chosen name and gender pronouns that reflect their gender identity,” reads APS’s policy.

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Morning Notes

Post-it Notes on the office building at 1600 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, congratulating a graduating H-B Woodlawn student who’s noted for her Post-It Note art (courtesy photo)

School’s Out for Summer — Today is the last day of high school for Arlington Public Schools students. Tomorrow is the last day of middle school and Friday is the last day of elementary school. [Arlington Public Schools]

Meetings Planned for Route 1 Changes — “Two upcoming online forums will look at Virginia Department of Transportation proposals for U.S. Route 1 through the Crystal City corridor. On June 15 at 7 p.m., the Livability 22202 Route 1 Working Group and VDOT proposals will be presented and feedback sought… On June 21 at 6:30 p.m., VDOT will host a public-information meeting on the proposal.” [Sun Gazette, VDOT]

Yorktown Girls Win State Soccer Tourney — “A season that began with a loss ended with no other setbacks and a state championship for the Yorktown Patriots. The girls soccer team won the Virginia High School League Class 6 state tournament by nipping the Kellam Knights, 1-0, in the June 11 title game.” [Sun Gazette, Washington Post]

DJO Softball Wins State Title — “The [Bishop O’Connell] Knights capped a dominant campaign with their 26th Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association state title over the past 28 seasons. Katie Kutz tossed 235 strikeouts and went 17-0 while batting .482 at the plate en route to Washington Catholic Athletic Conference and VISAA player of the year nods.” [Washington Post]

Groundbreaking for Bus Maintenance Yard — “Arlington County will host a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday morning for its new Arlington Transit (ART) operations and maintenance facility. The public is invited to attend. The ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. at the site of the future facility at 2629 Shirlington Rd. in Arlington in the Green Valley neighborhood.” [Patch]

School Board Absences — “The board, whose schedule of meetings is approved at the start of each fiscal year, has had a tough time gathering all five members on the dais at one time in recent months. Goldstein frequently has been absent, and at the May 26 meeting Priddy was gone. (On May 26, Diaz-Torres was not attending in person but did participate remotely from Puerto Rico, Kanninen said at the start of that meeting.)” [Sun Gazette]

More Bad Driving on I-395 — From Dave Statter: “This is a new one. Driver just stops at the end of the gore partially blocking the left lane until they can figure out their next move.” [Twitter]

Gov. Proposes Three-Month Gas Tax Holiday — “In Arlington, Virginia, the cost of regular gas is around $5.29. As gas prices continue to climb, CG Green says he’s pumping the brakes on unnecessary trips. ‘Look at it, it’s crazy,’ said Green. ‘It’s $5.29 for gas. I have to rethink where I’m going.’ Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin says he is in favor of temporarily suspending the commonwealth’s gas tax.” [WUSA 9]

It’s Wednesday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 86 and low of 68. Sunrise at 5:44 am and sunset at 8:37 pm. [Weather.gov]

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