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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8/3/22  10:52 am
Commenter: Anna H.

Oppose model policies

As a queer woman, educator, and parent of a Virginia public school graduate, I oppose VDOE's model policies regarding instructional materials with "sexually explicit" content.

As proposed, these policies would deny children access to important learning opportunities. By creating an extra level of hassle around all curricular materials that could conceivably bother any parent, these policies would discourage teachers, librarians, and other educators from exposing students to informative and thought-provoking material. For instance, Toni Morrison's Beloved contains a sexual scene that is intended to be very disturbing. This scene is part of why the book is worthwhile for students to read. Virginia high school students should learn that sexual abuse was part of slavery, and for the sake of human decency they should feel some emotional impact from that fact. Many other worthwhile works of literature contain sexual passages.

Furthermore, I have serious concerns about the sections of law that these policies refer to as definitions. "Homosexuality" or any other kind of queerness is no more "sexually explicit" than being cisgender and straight. For children to gain an accurate factual understanding of the world, they need texts that include LGBTQ people. Public schools should not have to cater to parents who don't want their children to have an accurate factual understanding of the world.

It's especially harmful if educators select texts which communicate to LGBTQ children, by the omission of people like themselves, that they are literally unmentionable. Like most LGBTQ adults, I grew up in an environment like that, and it was damaging. Queer children, and the children of queer parents, deserve to have their own innocence protected. That requires shielding them from the idea that they or their family members should not exist.

CommentID: 124754