According to multiple reports, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) officials have removed resources for LGBTQ+ youth from a government health website after a right-wing media outlet asked about it.
The Virginia Mercury And The Washington Post received internal emails from the Virginia Department of Health, sent out earlier this year after Daily Wire – the conservative platform Ben Shapiro co-founded – asked about two resources being listed on a website for LGBTQ youth. A reporter for the far-right media questioned two programs: an initiative called Queer Kid Stuff, an “LGBTQ+ and social justice website for children and families,” and Q Chat Space, which offered professionally moderated live chat and online support groups for youth.
Within a few hours, the entire site – which included nearly a dozen other resources – has been removed from the Ministry of Health website. The deportation order was issued by the Office of the Secretary of State for Health and Human Resources John Little.
“Has anyone asked for this?” Emily Yeatts, a superintendent in the department’s child and family health unit, wrote in a May 31 email obtained by the Mercury. “This request did not come from the program.”
Vanessa Walker Harris, the head of the Office of Family Health Services, sent a separate email around the same time, saying she was having “severe déjà vu.”
“What am I missing?” She wrote in an email Mercury received in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. “I am very concerned that staff have been instructed to remove the website without committing to it [subject matter experts] again in response to a politically motivated request.”
The Daily Wire later published one Article Attack on the programs.
A spokesman for the governor told the Post that the decision to remove the resources was in line with Youngkin’s promise to restore parental rights.
“In Virginia, the governor will always affirm the role of parents in their child’s life. “Children belong to their parents, not the state,” Macaulay Porter, the spokesman, said in a statement to the outlet. “The governor supports the provision of age-appropriate resources, but the government should not allow anonymous conversations between adults and children without parental consent.”
“The sexualization of children against their parents’ wishes doesn’t belong on a taxpayer-sponsored website,” Porter continued. She said officials are reviewing other aspects of the health website.
The controversy adds to one ongoing and comprehensive GOP effort roll back the rights of LGBTQ+ Americans across the country. Republicans have stepped up efforts to limit access to health care for transgender children, bar them from participating in school athletic teams and attack drag shows.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has launched a presidential campaign on his initiative to discourage teachers from speaking out about sexuality.