Glenn Youngkin: How Loudoun County school assaults made parents swing Virginia poll
Glenn Youngkin seized on multiple school sexual assault cases in Loudoun County in his argument against progressive criminal justice
Following Republican Glenn Youngkin's shocking win over Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia gubernatorial race on Tuesday, November 2, a number of issues have come forward as the possible reasons for his victory. One of the most important issues the GOP candidate highlighted was the parental discontent over schools, something his Democrat counterpart failed to address adequately.
The Virginia election emerged as a proving ground for the culture wars as Youngkin seized on multiple school sexual assault cases in exurban Loudoun County in his argument against progressive criminal justice and education policies. On the other hand, the McAuliffe campaign largely avoided commenting on the cases and described the controversy as a “transphobic dog whistle” because the suspect reportedly wore a skirt during the first sexual assault.
“It’s no longer about keeping kids safe from the pandemic. It’s about keeping kids safe from the culture wars,” Monmouth University pollster Patrick Murray told Politico days before the election. “McAuliffe has allowed Youngkin to change the terms of the debate about education,” Murray explained. “Now we have an issue that’s about school safety tied to the culture war and sexual identity issue, and it’s enough to be explosive.”
Youngkin elevated the case of a high school student who sexually assaulted a girl in a school restroom in late May. The suspect was transferred to another school and allegedly assaulted another girl earlier this month. The case grabbed national headlines after the distraught father of the first victim was arrested at a Loudoun County School Board meeting after he confronted officials about the assault. The teen suspect was referred to as "gender fluid" — thereby rekindling a debate about transgender access to school bathrooms. The suspect's lawyer claimed it was inaccurate to describe his client as "gender fluid" or transgender. A judge ruled on Monday, November 1, that there was sufficient evidence to sustain charges against the perpetrator, albeit there was no mention of the person's gender identity.
Here’s how a father named Scott Smith was treated when he went to his local school board in Virginia to protest the rape of his daughter at school by a transgender boy. This is who Merrick Garland and Joe Biden think is a threat to America: parents protecting their children pic.twitter.com/6SQ6KmfitE— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) October 27, 2021
Scott Smith's arrest at the chaotic school board meeting centered around trans-inclusive policies became a flashpoint in the culture war as parents across the nation confronted school board members over gender, race, and Covid policies. Loudoun County students staged several walkouts at a number of local high schools — often chanting “Loudoun County protects rapists" — after a fuller accounting of the sexual assaults and how the schools handled the cases.
“For months, we’ve seen chaos seep into our schools, escalating into violence. Violence in our schools that lack security,” Youngkin said at a Northern Virginia event in the days leading up to the election. “A new instance each week until the unthinkable happened: Virginia — and America — awoke to the news that a young teenage girl had been sexually assaulted in her Loudoun County school and worse, the school administrators covered it up, and Loudoun’s commonwealth attorney targeted the victim’s family.”
The Republican Governor-Elect released a number of ads slamming progressivism as a whole than attacking his opponent specifically. He highlighted various controversies in the state, including school policing and sex assault reporting. One ad showed how the Alexandria city council reinstated school resource officers following a brawl after initially pulling cops out of institutions as part of a nationwide progressive effort to de-emphasize law enforcement in education. Youngkin also blasted a 2020 law passed by Democratic legislators that allowed schools to refrain from reporting misdemeanor sexual batteries, Politico reported.
A recent poll conducted by Republican pollster John McLaughlin found that 59 percent of respondents would be less likely to support a politician if they “voted to remove mandatory reporting of sexual assaults on children in schools," including 44 percent who said they were much less likely. On the other hand, only 8 percent said they were more likely to vote for such a candidate.
As mentioned, McAuliffe pushed potential voters away by avoiding commenting on the reported school sexual assault cases. When pressed on the controversy, his campaign described it as a “transphobic dog whistle” because the suspect was wearing a skirt during the first sexual assault. McAuliffe also raised eyebrows when he insinuated that parents had no right to tell schools what they should be teaching their respective wards, further hurting his chances.