Wokeness has become a hot issue in the Virginia governor's race, The Washington Examiner reported.
Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin this week announced the first phase of his education plan at the Loudoun County Public Schools building in Ashburn, Virginia – site of a recent heated board meeting over transgender policy and critical race theory.
Critical race theory is defined by the Encyclopedia Britannica as the concept in which race is a socially constructed category ingrained in American law intended to maintain social, economic, and political inequalities between whites and nonwhites. It holds that the U.S. society is inherently or systemically racist.
Youngkin pledged to sign an executive order banning the teaching of critical race theory, protect advanced math classes, and appoint a new secretary of education, the Examiner said.
"The classroom is not the place for a political agenda," Youngkin said, according to the Examiner. "Our children should not be the victims of the left-liberal progressives' cultural war."
Youngkin's announcement was the most obvious sign yet of how cancel culture has entered the gubernatorial race and perhaps the national elections scene.
The Examiner reported that at least five states have signed bills into law aimed at prohibiting critical race theory by restricting how teachers can discuss racism or sexism in class, according to EdWeek.
More than a dozen federal and state anti-critical race theory proposals have been introduced.
Youngkin, former co-CEO of the Carlyle Group private equity firm, insisted his focus on the controversial school issues is not purely political.
"I think about what's right and what's wrong and what solutions we have," Youngkin told the Examiner in an interview Wednesday.
"And that's a real difference between me and my opponent, because he'll say anything to anybody that he needs to say in order to get a vote."
Youngkin is running against former Democrat Gov. Terry McAuliffe in the most competitive gubernatorial race this year, according to the Examiner. McAuliffe has called critical race theory a "right-wing conspiracy" that has been "made up by Donald Trump and Glenn Youngkin."
If Republicans are successful in regaining control in the state, it could provide the GOP with a blueprint for the 2022 midterm elections.
Youngkin’s focus on divisive cultural issues, however, could be risky in Virginia, where a Republican has not been elected to statewide office since 2009.
"Critical race theory stuff, the gender ideology, the boys and girls sports, all of that has awoken a sleeping giant," Terry Schilling, executive director of the American Principles Project, told the Examiner.
"These types of issues only work in politics when politicians lead on them, when they take the reins and take charge and make them a political issue. There's been a lot of movements that have been snuffed out in the past where there's a lot of public support for it among the voters and the people, but politicians won't take up, and so it goes nowhere."
A recent Politico/Morning Consult poll suggested that voters nationwide who are opposed to teaching critical race theory in schools had stronger opinions than those who supported it.
"I do wonder if that is the right approach in a place like Northern Virginia, a rapidly changing area that has become a lot more Democratic in recent years and where hard-edged Republican cultural messaging may very well go too far," Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, told the Examiner.
"Youngkin faces the challenge of trying to identify and critique progressive excesses in schools but not sounding like Dick Black while he’s doing it."
Last week, the Loudoun County Public Schools board cut short the public comment section of a school board meeting after a large crowd of unruly attendees refused to obey several orders to quiet down in a disruption leading to one arrest, The Washington Post reported.
Many of the speakers were there to discuss the drafting of a school policy that would require teachers to address transgender students by their names and pronouns, as well as grant transgender students access to facilities and activities that match their gender identity.
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