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  5:06 pm
Commenter: Catherine Romatowski

SB 656 guidelines must clarify that LGBTQIA+ topics are not inherently “sexually explicit”

Department of Education must develop guidelines clarifying that instruction about LGBTQIA+ people is not inherently “sexually explicit”.

Failing to do this could exclude a host of topics critical to student education, including discussions about Supreme Court cases such as Lawrence v. Texas and Obergefell v. Hodges, and instruction on key Queer figures in history, including Alan Turing, the celebrated Allied code-breaker who was subjected to homophobic persecution, and Ben Barres, a pioneering transgender neuroscientist who changed our understanding of glial cells. It could eliminate discussions about same-sex families, important events in LGBTQIA+ history like the Stonewall Riots and the HIV epidemic, and works by famous Queer authors such as Virginia Woolf and Alice Walker. 

These topics simply are not lewd, and they are essential to education. Erasing Queer people from Virginia classes would lead to fictionalized and over-simplified instruction, given the immense contributions that LGBTQIA+ people have made to our Commonwealth and our country. Moreover, every student, including LGBTQIA+ youth, deserves to be accurately represented in our curriculum. Representation is associated with stronger academic performance, improved mental health, and social prosperity. This need for representation is heightened for the LGBTQIA+ community, given Queer students' exceptional vulnerability to suicide and the mental health crisis. National research suggests that 42 percent of LGBTQ+ youth, including 52 percent of transgender youth, seriously considered suicide in 2021, compared to 15 percent of heterosexual youth. Similarly, Virginia surveys suggest that Queer youth are disproportionately impacted by harassment and discrimination.

For the sake of student education and student safety, I ask that you develop guidelines around SB 656 that clarify that material involving the LGBTQIA+ community is not inherently sexually explicit.

CommentID: 124878