Gov. Youngkin defends executive orders

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Posted at 2:52 PM, Feb 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-04 17:51:57-05

RICHMOND, Va. - Gov. Glenn Youngkin defended his recently signed executive orders during an interview with News 3 on Friday.

On his order making masks optional at schools, Youngkin said he had no regrets with how the issue is playing out.

"Parents absolutely deserve the privilege of making decisions for their children's health and wellbeing and education and upbringing, just like it says in the Code of Virginia," he said.

Several lawsuits are challenging Youngkin's order and whether or not he really has the power to make masks optional.

"I'm confident in the legal ruling that we're hopefully going to get as soon as possible that, in fact, parents will have that authority to make this decision," he said. "I think it will be clarified shortly."

News 3 also questioned Youngkin about an email he has set upwhere parents can email his office questions or concerns about what's going on in schools.

On Wednesday, several education groups called on Youngkin to take down the email "tip line," calling it "divisive itself."

"I think this is all part of listening to parents, listening to constituencies, listening to this whole [voters in Virginia] that felt like no one was listening to them before," he said, adding the emails he receives are confidential communications and will not be released.

His first executive order bans critical race theory from being taught in schooland directs his administration to identify "divisive concepts" that are being taught in schools. The same education groups have also called on him to rescind the order.

"Part of that day one game plan is getting divisive concepts out of the schools to make sure that children are not being told that just because of their race, or religion or sex, that they in fact are inferior, or superior, or prejudged in any way. And unfortunately, it is happening in the schools. And so, we just are going to make sure that it's not," he said.

Youngkin is ending his third week in office. The political newcomer is hoping to build consensus on issues like eliminating the state's grocery tax, but he has run into opposition on other parts of his agenda.

Sen. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) has called herself a "brick wall" in the Senate.

Youngkin said he believes his initiatives will make it through the Republican-controlled House of Delegates, but could face an uphill battle in the Senate, where Democrats have a slim majority.

"I'm disappointed at the partisan politics that I see being played in the Senate," he said. "Virginians are tired of this. This is why I won - to actually get things done."