Delegate Irene Shin (D-Fairfax) called Governor Glenn Youngkin a “wolf in fleece clothing” after he amended her bill to protect people wearing religious items against discrimination. Youngkin’s amendments to HB 1063 expand the definition of “religion” in the legislation. The bill passed out of the General Assembly with unanimous support, but the legislature will meet next week to vote on Youngkin’s amendments to the bill and other legislation.
“And in the face of this bipartisan collaboration, the Governor has drastically changed the scope and intent of this bill and warped into something much more insidious,” Shin said in a press release Wednesday. “The practical implications of the Governor’s amendment would be to create legal protections for discriminatory and bigoted policies, acts and beliefs under the guise of religion. The fact that this Administration would co-opt a universally approved bipartisan measure designed to ensure equal protections and weaponize it to advance their agenda of discrimination and division, while sadly unsurprising, is still appalling.”
While it was in session, the General Assembly passed a law protecting state and local government employees from being penalized by their employer for expressing their opinion about policy or proposals during public comment periods. According to a Monday email update, The Family Foundation asked for the bill after Loudoun County teacher Tanner Cross was fired from his position after he spoke against the district’s proposed transgender policy.
“If you’re a science teacher, and you don’t believe in evolution, that’s fine. But your job requires you to teach it, so you have to teach it; but on your own time, if you want to say evolution is BS, you can do that and you can’t be penalized for it. But you have to do your job,” bill sponsor Education Committee Chair Glenn Davis (R-Virginia Beach) told a committee in February. “I’ll use the other example, the Pledge [of Allegiance.] A teacher doesn’t believe in the Pledge, their job is when the day starts, as directed by the principal, to have their class stand up and say the Pledge. But on your own time, if you want to go out and speak against it, that’s your right. We can’t be penalized for it.”