In case you missed it, Delegate Schuyler VanValkenburg of Henrico delivered a powerful message about millennial civic engagement and inclusivity in Virginia. In remarks given on the floor of the House of Delegates yesterday, Delegate VanValkenburg called out House Republicans for killing legislationthat would have barred discrimination against the LGBTQ community in housing and employment.
Below is an excerpt from Delegate VanValkenburg’s speech, which you can watch in its entirety on the Facebook page of the Virginia House Democratic Caucus.
“Last November, a record number of young people made this impact, not only by voting, but by running for office, and many of us are in this chamber today. What drove many of us to run, and the high level of support we received from our peers across the commonwealth, was not casual references to Netflix, which has become disturbingly popular on this floor, but policy platforms that addressed real issues among our communities and age group.
“We ran on jobs, health care access, education, and creating a Virginia that was open and welcome to everybody, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or country of origin. And yesterday, we had an opportunity to listen to Virginia voters, especially millennials, and vote for equality. We had the chance to pass legislation that banned discrimination against the LGBT community in housing and employment, policies that nearly 80 percent of Virginians support. Inclusive laws that are good for our businesses, that are good for our communities, and that provide protection under the law so every single person in the commonwealth can have dignity and fulfill their god-given potential. And unfortunately, this body chose to vote down those laws.
“So in closing, let me finish with a specific example of something we didn’t fix yesterday. I find it shameful that in this great commonwealth, people in professions like teaching may have to hide their identity of fear of being fired. What does that say to our students, what does that say to our community, and most importantly, what does it say to that teacher? This is not a Virginia that I want to live in, that millennials want to live in, and that the majority of Virginians want to live in. Let’s do better.”
Delegate VanValkenburg is one of the 15 newly-elected Democrats who flipped Republican held seats in November's wave election. A profile of VanValkenburg ran on NPR Morning Edition in August of last year.