search
Sections List
American Journal News

Youngkin goes all-in on 'critical race theory' in campaign's final week

The Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee is leading the conservative crusade against public school officials.

By Nick Vachon - October 27, 2021
Share
Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin

At the end of a campaign defined by equivocation, Glenn Youngkin has fully embraced the right-wing narrative on “critical race theory” and transgender panic in the final week before Virginia elects a new governor.

Youngkin became the Republican nominee for governor in large part by paying lip service to supporters of former President Donald Trump. Since winning his party’s primary in May, however, Youngkin has tried to keep Trump at arm’s length to appeal to more moderate voters.

But Youngkin isn’t afraid of sounding too much like Trump anymore.

Youngkin has refused to commit to many concrete policy ideas during the campaign in a transparent bid to appeal to both moderate Virginian voters and hardcore conservatives. But Youngkin seems to have finally discovered a cause he feels passionate about in “critical race theory.”

In multiple campaign ads, Youngkin’s campaign has given a platform to a vocal minority of right-wing agitators who have been harassing school officials over so-called indoctrination of students in “critical race theory.”

In reality, critical race theory is an educational approach to the study of race in American history, politics, and other areas that is mainly used in higher education and is not taught in K-12 schools. But that hasn’t stopped conservative activists from using the phrase as a catchall term for curricula that acknowledge the United States’ history of slavery, segregation, brutality, and other forms of racial oppression.

At a Saturday night rally outside Richmond, Youngkin declared that if elected, he would “ban critical race theory in our schools” on his first day in office.

“America has fabulous chapters, I mean, it’s the greatest country in the world,” Youngkin said at the rally. “But we also have some important chapters in our history, we must teach them but what we won’t do, what we won’t do is teach our children to view everything through a lens of race. We won’t do this. I mean, we know in our hearts it’s wrong.”

Youngkin even invoked the legacy of the country’s most celebrated civil rights leader to advocate against teaching students about the United States’ history of racist violence.

“Dr. Martin Luther King implored us to judge one another based on the content of our character and not the color of our skin,” Youngkin said. “And therefore, on day one, I will ban critical race theory in our schools.”

On Monday, Youngkin’s campaign released an ad featuring Laura Murphy, a major GOP donor who fought to ban several books from her son’s AP English class in 2012 and 2013.

“As a parent, it’s tough to catch everything, so when my son showed me his reading assignment, my heart sunk. It was some of the most explicit material you can imagine,” Murphy says in the Youngkin campaign ad. “I met with lawmakers. They couldn’t believe what I was showing them. Their faces turned bright red with embarrassment.”

One of those books was Toni Morrison’s “Beloved,” which reflects on the horrors of slavery in the United States and won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Murphy also fought to ban Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye” and Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man.” Morrison and Ellison are two of the most respected Black writers in American literature.

Murphy campaigned for House Bill 516, which would have required Virginia schools to notify parents if students were assigned books that contained “sexually explicit content.” The bill would also have allowed parents to opt their children out of reading those books and let them read a substitute novel instead. The Virginia Legislature passed the bill in 2016, but then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed it.

The Youngkin campaign’s most recent ad came amid a growing focus among Republicans nationally on what students are taught about race, as well as on public school policies that deal with students’ sexuality and gender identity.

On Oct. 19, Youngkin called for an investigation into the Loudoun County School Board after allegations were made that the board had covered up two sexual assaults committed by a student at two separate schools. One of the victim’s parents alleged that the two sexual assaults were committed by a “skirt-wearing” male student who forced his way into a girls’ bathroom.

According to reports, in the first incident, on May 28, the then 14-year-old student met a female student in a girls’ bathroom, where he sexually assaulted her twice. The boy, now 15, was found guilty on both counts in juvenile court on Monday, Oct. 25, and is awaiting sentencing.

In the second incident, on Oct. 6, the same male student allegedly “forced the victim into an empty classroom where he held her against her will and inappropriately touched her,” according to the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office has consistently identified the suspect as male. Neither incident was the result of school policies that are meant to be inclusive of transgender students — a fact that runs counter to the conservative media narrative surrounding the story.

But that didn’t stop Youngkin’s campaign from seizing on the case. Last weekend, Youngkin demanded the resignations of the Loudoun County School Board members and Loudoun County Superintendent Scott Ziegler. Emails showed that Ziegler knew about the sexual assault, despite his statements to the contrary.

In the interview with Fox News in which he called on the board and superintendent to resign, Youngkin claimed that administrators “actually endangered students by moving this young man — who in fact was being prosecuted for a sexual assault in another school — and enabled it to happen again.”

At an Oct. 20 rally, Youngkin said he would station police officers in every Virginia public school.

“Every school will be required to have school resource officers on its campus. And let me be clear, they will be on every campus or that school will lose its funding,” he said.

Youngkin’s rhetoric seems to be working. Recent polling has the race as close as ever, with the candidates in a dead heat. An Emerson College/Nexstar Media poll released Tuesday shows McAuliffe and Youngkin both with 49% of the vote.

Loudoun County Attorney Buta Biberaj has called out conservative media and politicians for latching on to the story and accused them of exploiting the assaults for political gain.

“It’s all about how they’re taking these incidents and unfortunate circumstances, creating disinformation, done solely for the purpose of them promoting their agenda,” Biberaj told HuffPost on Tuesday. “And that is unfortunate because we have real people who are living these experiences.”

A previous version of this story misspelled the name of Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Ziegler.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

 


Read More
Alaska House committee advances, expands proposal to bar trans girls from girls sports

Alaska House committee advances, expands proposal to bar trans girls from girls sports

By Claire Stremple, Alaska Beacon - April 16, 2024
Senate clears gallery, passes bill to arm Tennessee teachers

Senate clears gallery, passes bill to arm Tennessee teachers

By Sam Stockard, Tennessee Lookout - April 10, 2024
Not if, but when: Parents of slain Parkland students urge Utah lawmakers to pass school safety bill

Not if, but when: Parents of slain Parkland students urge Utah lawmakers to pass school safety bill

By Kyle Dunphey, Utah News Dispatch - February 21, 2024
Ohio Democrats introduce education bills for universal school meals, teacher pay raises

Ohio Democrats introduce education bills for universal school meals, teacher pay raises

By Susan Tebben, Ohio Capital Journal - February 15, 2024
White House calls for focus on tutoring, summer school, absenteeism as pandemic aid winds down

White House calls for focus on tutoring, summer school, absenteeism as pandemic aid winds down

By Kalyn Belsha, Chalkbeat and Erica Meltzer, Chalkbeat Colorado - January 22, 2024
As legislative session opens, Alaska House Republicans reject attempt to override school funds veto

As legislative session opens, Alaska House Republicans reject attempt to override school funds veto

By James Brooks, Alaska Beacon and Claire Stremple, Alaska Beacon - January 17, 2024
AJ News
Latest
Republican Bernie Moreno’s rags-to-riches story exposed as a lie

Republican Bernie Moreno’s rags-to-riches story exposed as a lie

By Jesse Valentine - May 24, 2024
What happens to clinics after a state bans abortion? They fight to survive.

What happens to clinics after a state bans abortion? They fight to survive.

By Chabeli Carrazana and Shefali Luthra - May 22, 2024
Former Sen. Kelly Ayotte took job at Caterpillar after tax fraud probe

Former Sen. Kelly Ayotte took job at Caterpillar after tax fraud probe

By Jesse Valentine - May 21, 2024
Alabama OB-GYN residencies dropped over 20% after Dobbs, state abortion ban, says analysis

Alabama OB-GYN residencies dropped over 20% after Dobbs, state abortion ban, says analysis

By Alander Rocha, Alabama Reflector - May 21, 2024
House GOP celebrates National Police Week while pushing to defund local law enforcement

House GOP celebrates National Police Week while pushing to defund local law enforcement

By Jesse Valentine - May 16, 2024
Evolution denier Mark Robinson could reshape North Carolina’s education system

Evolution denier Mark Robinson could reshape North Carolina’s education system

By Jesse Valentine - May 16, 2024
Republican Jay Ashcroft backs anti-abortion clinics that push lies and disinformation

Republican Jay Ashcroft backs anti-abortion clinics that push lies and disinformation

By Jesse Valentine - May 14, 2024
Republican Sam Brown’s assault on teacher unions could backfire

Republican Sam Brown’s assault on teacher unions could backfire

By Jesse Valentine - May 09, 2024
Florida abortion ban puts GOP Rep. Anna Paulina Luna’s anti-choice views in spotlight

Florida abortion ban puts GOP Rep. Anna Paulina Luna’s anti-choice views in spotlight

By Jesse Valentine - May 07, 2024
Trump leaves door open to banning medication abortion nationwide

Trump leaves door open to banning medication abortion nationwide

By Jennifer Shutt, States Newsroom - April 30, 2024
Republican Caroleene Dobson wants Alabama abortion ban to go nationwide

Republican Caroleene Dobson wants Alabama abortion ban to go nationwide

By Jesse Valentine - April 30, 2024
Ohio Gov. DeWine said he didn’t know of millions in FirstEnergy support. Is it plausible?

Ohio Gov. DeWine said he didn’t know of millions in FirstEnergy support. Is it plausible?

By Marty Schladen, Ohio Capital Journal - April 29, 2024
GOP Rep. Zach Nunn suggests laws against hate crime aren’t needed

GOP Rep. Zach Nunn suggests laws against hate crime aren’t needed

By Jesse Valentine - April 15, 2024
GOP Senate candidate Hung Cao blames racial equity for Baltimore bridge tragedy

GOP Senate candidate Hung Cao blames racial equity for Baltimore bridge tragedy

By Jesse Valentine - March 29, 2024
GOP Rep. Jennifer Kiggans donates thousands to far-right extremists

GOP Rep. Jennifer Kiggans donates thousands to far-right extremists

By Jesse Valentine - March 08, 2024
Ohio senate candidate Bernie Moreno: “Absolute pro-life no exceptions.”

Ohio senate candidate Bernie Moreno: “Absolute pro-life no exceptions.”

By Jesse Valentine - March 07, 2024
Anti-China Republicans pocket thousands from Chinese owned conglomerate

Anti-China Republicans pocket thousands from Chinese owned conglomerate

By Jesse Valentine - March 04, 2024
Republican Eric Hovde makes inconsistent statements about family history

Republican Eric Hovde makes inconsistent statements about family history

By Jesse Valentine - February 26, 2024
Republican David McCormick invests millions in website that platforms Holocaust denial

Republican David McCormick invests millions in website that platforms Holocaust denial

By Jesse Valentine - February 09, 2024
Lawmakers will again take up bills expanding, tightening gun laws

Lawmakers will again take up bills expanding, tightening gun laws

By Annmarie Timmins, New Hampshire Bulletin - January 31, 2024
UAW delivers rousing presidential endorsement for Biden over ‘scab’ Trump

UAW delivers rousing presidential endorsement for Biden over ‘scab’ Trump

By Ashley Murray, States Newsroom - January 24, 2024
Republicans Sam Brown and Jeff Gunter sling mud in Nevada senate primary

Republicans Sam Brown and Jeff Gunter sling mud in Nevada senate primary

By Jesse Valentine - January 17, 2024
A Young Texas Woman Almost Died Due To The Texas Abortion Bans – Now She’s Battling To Save Other Women

A Young Texas Woman Almost Died Due To The Texas Abortion Bans – Now She’s Battling To Save Other Women

By Bonnie Fuller - January 10, 2024
Health care legislation preview: Maryland advocates want to focus on access, patients in 2024 session

Health care legislation preview: Maryland advocates want to focus on access, patients in 2024 session

By Danielle J. Brown, Maryland Matters - January 08, 2024
How GOP senate hopefuls try to excuse the  January 6 insurrection

How GOP senate hopefuls try to excuse the  January 6 insurrection

By Jesse Valentine - January 05, 2024
NH lawmakers will be taking up major voting bills this year. Here are some to watch for.

NH lawmakers will be taking up major voting bills this year. Here are some to watch for.

By Ethan DeWitt, New Hampshire Bulletin - January 04, 2024
Republican US Senate candidates want to make Trump’s tax cuts permanent 

Republican US Senate candidates want to make Trump’s tax cuts permanent 

By Jesse Valentine - December 22, 2023
Rand Paul went all in on the Kentucky governor’s race. It didn’t work.

Rand Paul went all in on the Kentucky governor’s race. It didn’t work.

By - December 15, 2023
Texas governor and attorney general do little to curb state’s chemical plant crisis

Texas governor and attorney general do little to curb state’s chemical plant crisis

By Jesse Valentine - December 08, 2023
Likely GOP Senate candidate Eric Hovde proposed tax hike for poorer workers and retirees

Likely GOP Senate candidate Eric Hovde proposed tax hike for poorer workers and retirees

By Jesse Valentine - December 07, 2023
Whitmer signs specific criminal penalties for assaulting health care workers into law

Whitmer signs specific criminal penalties for assaulting health care workers into law

By Anna Liz Nichols, Michigan Advance - December 06, 2023
105 Republicans voted to expel Santos for things Trump has also done

105 Republicans voted to expel Santos for things Trump has also done

By Jesse Valentine - December 05, 2023
For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another Trump term is another chance to kill Obamacare

For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another Trump term is another chance to kill Obamacare

By Jesse Valentine - December 04, 2023
Florida Sen. Rick Scott backs Donald Trump in revived push to repeal Obamacare

Florida Sen. Rick Scott backs Donald Trump in revived push to repeal Obamacare

By Jesse Valentine - November 30, 2023
Tate Reeves took donations from power company that hiked customer rates

Tate Reeves took donations from power company that hiked customer rates

By Jesse Valentine - November 06, 2023
Daniel Cameron ran on depoliticizing the Kentucky AG’s office. He made it more political.

Daniel Cameron ran on depoliticizing the Kentucky AG’s office. He made it more political.

By Jesse Valentine - November 03, 2023
Republican operatives sound every alarm on current trajectory of 2023 governor’s race

Republican operatives sound every alarm on current trajectory of 2023 governor’s race

By Adam Ganucheau, Mississippi Today - October 24, 2023
Louisiana declares abortion drugs ‘dangerous substances’ to add harsher penalties

Louisiana declares abortion drugs ‘dangerous substances’ to add harsher penalties

By Greg LaRose, Louisiana Illuminator - May 24, 2024
These U.S. Supreme Court cases could affect abortion access nationwide

These U.S. Supreme Court cases could affect abortion access nationwide

By Charlotte Rene Woods, Virginia Mercury - May 24, 2024
Mike Rogers’ ties to Chinese telecom giants fuel hypocrisy scandal

Mike Rogers’ ties to Chinese telecom giants fuel hypocrisy scandal

By Jesse Valentine - May 23, 2024
New rules protect pregnant workers, but red states sue over abortion provisions

New rules protect pregnant workers, but red states sue over abortion provisions

By Anna Claire Vollers - May 22, 2024