The student walkouts taking place in nearly 100 public schools across Virginia today represent everything that’s wrong with our public education system. Students may barely be learning, but they are being trained as activists, thanks to encouragement from woke educators who think they have the right to override parental prerogatives and decide how children will be raised.

The student protests, openly incited by teachers, come in response to Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s new policy prohibiting schools from socially transitioning gender-confused students behind their parents’ backs. Under the new rule, teachers and administrators must obtain written parental consent before referring to a student by a different name or set of pronouns. Previously, they would deliberately hide students’ “gender identity” from parents.

The educators and students protesting this policy seem to think that keeping parents in the know about the state of their children’s mental and physical well-being will endanger both — a claim that is obviously absurd in every other context. For example, if a young girl were struggling with anorexia at school, the school’s very first reaction would be to inform her parents so that she can get the help she needs at home and outside the classroom. In fact, Virginia passed a law in 2013 requiring schools to provide families with educational information on an annual basis about eating disorders and how they manifest themselves.

That’s because the state recognizes that parents are the first line of defense for their children’s well-being and are ultimately the ones responsible for it. So why does that same standard not apply to students struggling with gender confusion? Gender activists even admit that students identifying as a gender different than their sex disproportionately struggle with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. So what possible justification could there be for hiding such mental anguish from their parents?

There is no justification, of course — it’s just ideology, all the way down.

Gender ideology prompts educators to change the way students think about themselves and their families. The new identity they take on outside the home places a wedge between themselves and their parents — and that is the entire point. It’s a lot easier for schools to take over as the final arbiter over what children are taught and how they are raised if parents have no idea that they’ve been cut out of the equation in the first place.

No wonder, then, that Virginia teachers and administrators are upset to have this power taken away from them.

So what do they do? They rally the ideological warriors they’ve been training for the past several years and put them to work as activists. For example, a teacher at West Potomac High School in Alexandria, Virginia, sent an email to her students last week encouraging them to participate in the walkouts today and “come show your support” for the “LGBTQIA+ community.”

That so many students have joined the protests is a sign of educational failure, but it is also a sign that the education establishment’s strategy is succeeding. Its goal is to produce militant activists, not the engaged learners it’s supposed to produce. Public schools want students to think politically, not critically, to choose ideology over family. They want parents to feel like they have no choice but to sit down, shut up, and accept it.

Youngkin’s policy is an important step toward breaking this cycle of indoctrination. The reactions against it from educators and students alike are a sign that he’s exactly over the target.