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  5:44 pm
Commenter: Jen Spisak

Strongly OPPOSE!

Parents ALREADY have the right to opt their child out of reading an all-class read. Parents already have the right to see what books their children are reading in the classroom. This bill does NOT create this right.

All this bill does is require educators to determine how every parent could possibly define “sexually explicit” and then use all of those definitions when selecting material. It assumes everyone has the same definition for "sexually explicit" and that anyone's inaccurate definition of it could limit what students get to read in the classroom- regardless of literary merit. As an example, some misguided folks inaccurately define “sexually explicit” as the mere presence of an LQBTQIA+ character in a work of literature even when no sex occurs.

This bill would trigger “sexually explicit” warnings for most books taught in high school including classics such as The Scarlet Letter, The Color Purple, almost all of Shakespeare’s plays, The Canterbury Tales, Their Eyes Were Watching God, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Jane Eyre, Beloved, and so many more.

I trust in the decisions of educators and librarians who have the training and experience to select material of value for the classroom setting. If a parent wants to censor what their child is reading, they can ask for a list of the books taught during the school year- exactly as they have always been able to do.

Put the onus back on the parents instead of requiring an educator to figure out what each parent could possibly define as “sexually explicit.” Parents are quite capable of investigating and reading the books being taught in the classroom and making decisions on their own, without an educator prompting them. If it is important enough to the parent to censor what their child reads, they have this right just as they always have without this needless bill.

CommentID: 122985