Last week, a Virginia judge denied Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s (R-VA) bid to allow parents to decide whether their children should wear masks at school. Following the judge’s order, Virginia Democrats issued a statement saying, “In a win for Virginia parents, courts rule against Youngkin’s executive overreach.”
The press release further stated: “In a decisive blow to Governor Youngkin’s far-right agenda, courts today ruled against the Governor’s executive order to remove masks from Virginia schools.”
Just days later, the Virginia Supreme Court rejected a challenge to Youngkin’s executive order, siding with the governor in what Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares called “a win for Virginia families.”
Flash forward less than a week, and nearly half of the state’s Democratic senators voted for an amendment to an education bill that would let parents opt out of mask mandates at their local schools. The Virginia Mercury reported that the amended bill “is expected to win final passage Wednesday.”
The amendment was proposed by State Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax), who earlier this week said “Forced Masking” violates the First Amendment.
“It has become hard, if not impossible, to find a respected medical researcher who still defends Forced Masking of Children as a public safety measure,” Petersen wrote Monday, according to The Daily Wire.
“The decision to wear a mask in public – when there is so little correlation with public health – makes it de facto a political decision. In other words, by wearing a mask in a public setting, the wearer is able to communicate a political message, e.g. ‘I Care About Others’ or ‘I voted for Biden’ … You are forcing children to make a political statement that they (and their parents) may not believe. That violates the First Amendment,” Petersen added.
“For the past two years, we have seen the lives of our children disrupted and destroyed by a pandemic that posed little, or no, threat to them physically. Too many decisions involving children have been dictated by political expediency. As a parent, I’ve had enough,” he wrote. “In the coming days, I will ask the Governor to either send down special legislation or amend existing legislation so as to end the Forced Masking of Children. We will pass that with a bipartisan majority and this sad episode will finally end.”
As the Mercury noted, “10 Democrats joined the Senate’s 19 Republicans to accept the amendment on a 29-9 vote.”
Youngkin praised the amendment’s passage, noting that it comes after Democrat governors have ended universal mask mandates – which has been praised by media outlets who just weeks earlier condemned Youngkin for doing the same.
“In the last week, we have seen Democrat-led states like Oregon, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Delaware move away from universal mask mandates in schools,” Younkgin said. “I am pleased that there is bipartisan support for doing the same in Virginia.”
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