My name is Cynthia Barden and I live in Christiansburg, VA.
I have serious concerns about the VDOE’s model policies concerning instructional mayerials 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 Virginia resident, I believe that classrooms should be a place where students are free to ask questions, explore new ideas, and learn about diverse viewpoints. The proposed model policies could lead to the exclusion of valuable instructional materials that introduce students to LGBTQ+ stories and experiences, especially those 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.
The public school system was established to support parents in educating their children. The teachers, librarians and education specialists have years of experience and are well equiped to introduce diverse and sometimes difficult subjects while also mitigating the effects of these subjects on their students. The proposed policies would likely result in censorship and fear on the part of school professionals on what is “sexually explicit content”.
Virginia students deserve to grow up into brave, courageous people who value diversity and inclusion. We are all better off when young people are encouraged to embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion,
it is for these reasons that I oppose the proposed model policies.