Roll up your sleeves, Virginia, because we have some work to do!
There’s a lot on the line, Virginia! This November, every single state representative is up for election–and it’s going to be extremely close. Currently Democrats hold the Senate majority with just 4 seats and Republicans have a 4-seat majority in the House. If Republicans win control of both legislative houses, they will pass dangerous, extreme legislation—but suburban women can stop them.
Gov. Youngkin and his fellow extremists are wildly out of step with mainstream Virginians. He ran on the “parents’ rights” platform, trying to appeal to mainstream parents, but it quickly became clear that he is a conservative extremist who lied to us about his stance on abortion rights, public education and gun safety. Virginia is the birthplace of this latest iteration of “parents’ rights” extremism, which has nothing to do with the rights or freedom of parents. It’s about trying to control how we parent—and parenting is hard enough without that!
During the past year and a half, extremists in our state have made their agenda clear—if Republicans win control of the General Assembly in 2023, they are determined to ban abortion, attack public education, restrict rights for trans students, ban books, make it harder to vote, and make guns more accessible.
Our school boards are also at risk. If extremists win on school boards, they will continue targeting LGBTQ+ students with political attacks, restricting accurate teaching of our country’s history, cutting discussions of race and gender, and books—all while ignoring the real issues our schools face like teacher shortages, teacher pay, shortage of bus drivers, and keeping our kids, teachers, and staff safe at school.
There is so much on the line in the upcoming 2023 state elections, so we need everyone to work together!
Virginia is now the only state with abortion access in the South. Many states count on the doctors and clinics available in Virginia to provide reproductive health care that’s under attack in other states. Despite the fact that access to abortion is supported by a majority of Virginians, Governor Youngkin has vowed to continue to push for a 15 week abortion ban—and we’ve all seen how abortion bans put women’s health and lives at risk. We have to work together to protect our rights to reproductive healthcare. The 2023 election will determine our reproductive rights in Virginia and beyond!
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Public education in Virginia is under attack. Extremists at the local level are banning books, rewriting history, and making LGBTQ+ kids and children of color less safe in the classroom. Anytime kids are targeted or bullied in a school environment, all of the kids at the school are less safe. All children benefit from a safe and accepting school environment.
In 2021, RWB was on the ground in Loudoun County, when many of the “parents’ rights” debates first began. Since then we have seen extremists target school boards in county after county across Virginia. Governor Youngkin is at the forefront of these attacks on public education. Recently his Chief of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion declared that “DEI is dead ” and renamed the department. Under the Youngkin administration, Virginia is less safe for children of color and LGBTQ+ youth.
These attacks on public education are not only harmful to all children in Virginia, but they also take valuable time away from solving the real issues affecting public education. The state of Virginia already has a teacher shortage—these attacks are driving teachers away and making the problem worse. School districts struggle to hire and keep teachers, bus drivers, and staff and are commonly plagued by non-competitive salaries. In addition, our kids don’t feel safe at school but rather than address the issue, extremists want to ban books and make life harder for kids who just want to fit in.
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Before Youngkin and other extremists in the legislature took power, Virginia passed common sense gun violence prevention laws that the overwhelming majority of Virginians support. This includes background checks, red flag laws (which allow guns to be removed from individuals who present a danger to others or themselves), and a one-gun per month purchase limit. Cities and counties can also create gun-free zones at places like parks, rec centers and sports facilities, creating safer spaces for all our families. No one needs a firearm at a kids’ baseball game! But extremists have proposed legislation to loosen gun restrictions such as concealed carry without a permit. They have made it a priority to dismantle the recent gun safety legislation. If they regain control of the legislature, they will put dismantling the recent gun safety legislation at the top of their to-do list.
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Virginia has made great progress in the last five years to increase voting access in the state with same-day voter registration and no-excuse absentee voting. But Governor Youngkin has been laying the framework for implementing voter suppression if Republicans take control of the General Assembly in November. They want to reverse our progress and make it harder to vote in Virginia. Why would anyone want to make it harder to vote? Recently the Youngkin administration pulled us out of ERIC, a bi-partisan organization that works to clean up voter rolls and ensure accurate and fair voter data across state lines. We are also one of only two states that still bars those convicted of a felony, from voting in elections. This law dates back to the Jim Crow era, and was directly targeting black voters. We have to ensure that our rights to vote in Virginia are protected into the future.
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