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Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
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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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7/31/22  2:48 pm
Commenter: Pamela Muir

Model Policies Concerning Instructional Materials with Sexually Explicit Content

I am writing as a concerned parent of an adult transgender person.

These policy definitions are overly broad; therefore, “sexually explicit” materials could include books that have been in school curricula for decades, such as both William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet or Toni Morrison’s Beloved. 

Teachers are the arbiters of “explicit” content, which means that they have two options: a) develop two separate curriculums, or b) choose the most innocuous, least challenging materials to ensure that they are not violating the policy. Neither of these options are palatable for teachers, students, or families.

This will lead to censorship within public schools, particularly censorship of books about LGBTQIA characters and issues. Even civil rights lessons could be censored to exclude rights for non-heterosexual and non-cisgender people. 

Particularly worrisome is that model policy definitions linked to in the law and policy explicitly say that homeosexuality triggers the law and limitations, which could lead to the elimination of discussion or recognition of students, educators, staff, and families who are members of the LGBTQIA community. People who are not heterosexual should not be considered sexually explicit by the Virginia Department of Education or Virginia public schools.

?These explicit materials policies are also duplicative of policies that already exist in Virginia, providing transparency into the libraries and curricula of public schools. Parents have always had the right to opt their child out of material in the classroom. In many school districts, all materials are approved by a committee that includes educators and parents/guardians

CommentID: 124229