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  11:57 pm
Commenter: Carola Haas

Don't censor teachers and librarians

As a parent and community member, I’m deeply concerned about the attempts to muzzle teachers and students from acknowledging and learning about a diversity of perspectives and experiences.  Education is meant to broaden students’ horizons, not narrow them.  Most children develop empathy by learning about the experiences of others.    It is sad and troubling that students who are being raised by grandparents, by single parents, by loving parents who may not be legally married, by gay or lesbian parents, could never see materials that acknowledged the existence of other families like their own?  Students who have a mother and father married to each other and living in the same home could see their experiences reflected in stories and materials in the classroom, but other children could not?  If parents are worried their children are so vulnerable that they would be damaged by hearing about divorced or gay parents, the family should be working with professionals to help them understand that not all families are identical and that we can still work together and live with people who are not just like us.  It is preposterous to think that white students would be damaged by learning about the history or contributions of Americans of other races.  The point of education is to learn.  It is normal to feel challenged by new ideas, and gaining the skills in growing and understanding will make our children better members of society.  Teaching children about metamorphosis is not grooming them to be butterflies or encouraging them to reject their current physical form.  But what a sad world if they weren’t allowed to learn that butterflies exist because we now have a taboo on transformation.


Of course parents should be involved in their children’s education, but a policy should encourage parents to participate and volunteer, not to threaten teachers and censor librarians. Our Virginia public education system is one of the best in the nation.  My child got a wonderful education and learned so much by being exposed to books about people who were very different from our own family.  Not every teacher was perfect, but they were all dedicated professionals.  The attacks on our teachers, librarians, and public schools are insulting and sad.  Our communities should be coming together to support our youth, not demonizing students who don’t fit the mold of Dick and Jane from the old primary readers.


If the Virginia Department of Education creates a model policy similar to Florida’s “don’t say gay” policy, or restricts teaching about the struggles and contributions of Indigenous, Black, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic Americans, and of Americans with disabilities, we are opening ourselves to costly lawsuits from families whose children aren’t getting the support in schools that they need and from families whose children are unprepared to function in society because they have been raised to reject all experiences that are not identical to their own.  Please don’t fall into this destructive trap that has nothing to do with parental rights, and everything to do with a small but powerful group trying to demonize vulnerable children and dedicated teachers to whip up fear and drive support to achieve their political goals of defunding public education.


Please do not go forward with a policy that attempts to notify parents of sexually explicit or divisive materials in schools.  Our teachers are trained professionals!


Thank you.

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