Intellectual Freedom Committee Statement August 2023


Statement in Regard to Gov. Youngkin’s Removal of LGBTQ Materials from State Website

The Virginia Mercury recently reported that in response to an inquiry from a media outlet in May about “two websites listed on a Virginia Department of Health webpage offering resources for LGBTQ youth, internal agency emails indicate Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration took the entire page down, leaving agency employees who oversaw it bewildered.” 

When agency employees are accorded so little respect that those in power feel free to act behind the scenes to disregard long-approved processes, democracy is threatened. 

In the same Mercury piece, a supervisor and a director confirmed the request did not come from anyone in the program and the director expressed concern “that staff were directed to remove the webpage without engaging with [subject matter experts].”

In addition to the lack of transparency, the continued pattern of disregarding professional staff and restricting access to information for LGBTQ community members amplifies the bigotry of those who insist on censoring access to information and operating in the dark. The Virginia Department of Health has as a stated goal to be a trusted source of public health information for all Virginians. “All Virginians” includes our LGBTQ community, and removing health resources in this manner undermines that trust.

Refusing to clearly explain why these materials were removed without due process of investigation is anti-American. Our First Amendment was written from a belief that free inquiry and open discussion is crucial to a healthy democracy. 

VLA is steadfast in its commitment to the freedom of expression and the equitable access to information for all. We encourage our members to demand transparency and respect for due process from government officials. We encourage our members to contact the governor’s office, their state legislators and the Virginia Department of Health to express concern over these recent developments.

VLA Intellectual Freedom Committee