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Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Education
State Board of Education
Guidance Document Change: The guidance document "Model Policies Concerning Instructional Materials with Sexually Explicit Content" was developed in conjunction with stakeholders in order to comply with SB656 (2022).
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7/25/22  11:14 am
Commenter: Donald Sensabaugh

Strongly opposed

Senate Bill 656 is too broad and has the capacity to be abused. 'Any' description of sexually explicit content can be construed as narrowly as to include a single image or sentence in a larger work and used as grounds to disqualify the work as instructional material.

The definition of sexually explicit content under Virginia law is so broad ((i) any description of or (ii) any picture, photograph, drawing, motion picture film, digital image or similar visual representation depicting sexual bestiality, a lewd exhibition of nudity, as nudity is defined in § 18.2-390, sexual excitement, sexual conduct or sadomasochistic abuse, as also defined in § 18.2-390, coprophilia, urophilia, or fetishism) that it would exclude many works of classic literature. Works such as the Bible, Scarlet Letter, The Great Gatsby, or the Diary of Anne Frank would be excluded for including sexually explicit content. The list of material to be challenged on these grounds is staggering.  

Another issue with this law is that students, particularly LGBTQ students or students from other marginalized communities benefit from being able to access works in which their sexuality, gender orientation, disability, etc. is depicted as being part of a normal and healthy relationship. This law provides a groundwork for excluding those works in their entirety and actively harms those communities by removing all forms of representation, no matter their instructional value. 

CommentID: 122930