On his first day in office, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin banned teaching Critical Race Theory and mask mandates in schools

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Glenn Youngkin
GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin of Virginia.AP Photo/Steve Helber, File
  • Virginia's new Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed 11 executive actions on his first day in office.

  • One of them banned the teaching of Critical Race Theory while another targeted school mask mandates.

  • There is little evidence that Critical Race Theory was taught in Virginia's K-12 schools.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin quickly set the tone for his administration on Saturday, signing numerous executive actions, including one that bans the teaching of "divisive concepts" in schools and another that targets school mask mandates.

As Insider's John L. Dorman previously reported, Youngkin was sworn in Saturday after he in November last year beat out former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, to replace outgoing Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat who was prohibited for running for re-election due to term limits.

Youngkin is the first GOP governor of Virginia since 2014.

"The work is only beginning," Youngkin said in a statement alongside the 11 executive actions he signed Saturday.

"The important steps we are taking today begins the work of restoring excellence in education, making our communities safer, opening Virginia for business and reinvigorating job growth, and making government work for the people, and not the other way around," he added.

As Insider previously reported, part of Youngkin's campaign strategy involved his lobbing attacks on Critical Race Theory in public schools, which the Virginia Department of Education said last year was not part of its state standards of learning, WDBJ reported.

The "divisive concepts" executive action specifically bans the teaching of CRT.

CRT is centered around the idea that American society is presently impacted by the legacy of slavery and how that legacy factors into US laws and polices. Despite the fact there has been little evidence to suggest CRT is taught in K-12 schools in the US, Republicans in state legislatures have crafted legislation banning it and railed against in on the campaign trail.

"Inherently divisive concepts, like Critical Race Theory and its progeny, instruct students to only view life through the lens of race and presumes that some students are consciously or unconsciously racist, sexist, or oppressive, and that other students are victims," the executive order reads.

In a series of interviews while on the campaign trail last year, Youngkin claimed, with little evidence, that CRT was being taught in Virginia high schools, according to Politifact. According to the report, numerous Virginia school systems had, on the contrary, released statements claiming they didn't teach students about CRT.

Youngkin also on Saturday signed an executive action that banned schools from requiring that students wear masks to stem the spread of COVID-19, instead allowing parents to decide when their children wear masks during the school day.

"The way that Virginia works is that the governor cannot ban mask mandates. Schools make those decisions," he told WTKR-TV in an interview last week. "We will in fact, then, also make sure that schools allow parents to exercise their rights for what's best for their children, to opt-out of those mandates."

While schools can still require masks, parents can opt their child out of them without providing a reason, according to the executive action.

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