Agencies | Governor
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).
Previous Comment     Next Comment     Back to List of Comments
7/28/22  10:39 am
Commenter: Courtney Lewis

"Sexually Explicit" is a flawed term

"Sexually explicit" is a term that will mean something different to every person, which places educators and librarians in an untenable position of not being able to foretell what a parent will find objectable. It is also not a legally defined term, and therefore problematic in any type of legislation. 

The bill itself represents a lack of trust between parents and educators. While parents are always the expert on their child, they are not experts on all children and their development. Educators are trained to know what is developmentally age-appropriate. Many parents, fueled by the anxiety of wanting to help their child, attempt to remove obstacles that could cause discomfort. Educators know every child deserves to be challenged with material that causes them to think, and sometimes be uncomfortable, in order to spur their intellectual and emotional growth. 

"Sexually explicit" has also become a coded term that refers to LGBTQ+ material, or sometimes literature that contains racial violence (which often expresses itself in sexual violence). Attaching an inflammatory term like this that has a high degree of interpretation, results in the literary and artistic value of each individual work being reduced to a few pages or words, and not evaluated as a whole. Just as no one person would like their entire life to be judged on a specific moment, books and material cannot be holistically evaluated successfully using this method. 

For those parents attempting to limit the mention of LGBTQ+ characters or identities, negating the lived reality of people's lives has consequences. High rates of depression and suicide among LGBTQ+ youth are a major indication of the hostility in our culture and our goal as citizens is to determine how we can make children healthier and happier, knowing they will learn more if they feel safe and valued. 

CommentID: 124113