Youngkin Orders Virginia 'Equity' Office To Instead Focus on Education, Abortion

Governor tasks head of office to be 'ambassador for unborn children'

Glenn Youngkin (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
January 20, 2022

Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin (R.) on Wednesday overhauled the state's Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to focus on economic opportunity, parental rights, and protecting unborn children.

The governor announced the change in an executive order naming former Heritage Foundation executive Angela Sailor as the office's director. Youngkin's executive order also expands the scope of the office beyond standard diversity issues. It directs the office "to eliminate disparities in pre-natal care, and be an ambassador for unborn children."

Youngkin also announced he would seek to change the name of the department to the Office of Diversity, Opportunity, and Inclusion. Former Virginia governor Ralph Northam (D.) established the office in 2019 after he was accused of wearing blackface in a photo from his medical school yearbook.

On the campaign trail, Youngkin promised to ban critical race theory in schools and restore parental rights in education. Wednesday's executive order directs the diversity office to "be responsive to the rights of parents in educational and curricular decision-making." Sailor, a critical race theory critic who served in the Department of Education under former president George W. Bush, is charged with ensuring U.S. history curricula are "honest, objective, and complete."

Sailor was a top lieutenant to the foundation's former president Kay Coles James, whom Youngkin appointed secretary of the commonwealth.

Under Northam, the office worked to increase racial diversity in the government and educate Virginia leaders about "systemic inequity and its effects." Youngkin's executive order instead directs the office to protect free speech and promote viewpoint diversity in higher education.

Over the weekend, Youngkin's team scrubbed the "Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion" section from the governor's website.