I oppose the proposed model policies. I have serious concerns regarding the VDOE's model policies regarding instructional materials with “sexually explicit content,” a broadly vague term that could be applied to important works of literature like "Beloved" by Toni Morrison or Ulysses by James Joyce.
As a resident of Oakton, Virginia, I believe that classrooms should be a place where students are free to ask questions, explore new ideas, and learn about diverse viewpoints. Students should have access to material that represents their own viewpoints and perspectives and proposed model policies could lead to the exclusion of valuable instructional materials by or for Black, Indigenous, and people of color. Even worse, they could potentially prevent LGBTQ+ youth from accessing life-saving information about themselves. Representation matters, and all Virginia students deserve to learn free from censorship and political interference.
While parents are invaluable teachers in their children’s lives, the public school system was established to support parents in educating their children. Teachers, librarians, and education experts have years of experience and are well equipped to introduce diverse and sometimes difficult subjects into the classroom while mitigating the harm and trauma these subjects may cause their students. They are trained professionals whose jobs are to put the students’ interests first. The proposed model policies would make it harder for these educators to do their job and will likely result in censorship due to teacher and librarian’s fear or confusion over what qualifies as “sexually explicit content.”
Virginia students deserve to grow up into people who value diversity and inclusion. We are all better off when young people are encouraged to embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion.