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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7/18/22  10:53 am
Commenter: Mark Tauber

Opposed to B656

I am opposed to B 656.

I took the Career Changer Course in 2014 and received a provision certification to teach English, Spanish, and Social Studies. I did some student teaching but did not seek a full-time position. Instead, I conducted individual tutoring for kids who needed additional help in in these subjects due to ADHD and Executive Function problems, as well as for immigrants who could speak English but could not read at grade level. I am well acquainted with  VSOLs. Many of the books that Virginia parents would seek to ban are anyway too difficult for many Virginia high school students to read. However, for those who can read them, they are important in helping students understand their world and the diversity of human experience.

Parents certainly should have a right to review curriculum for children. If parents wish to remove a book from their child's study, they can bring it to the attention of the school or Board of Education and formally request that their child not be required to read it. If parents wish to ban it entirely, they should make the case to the School Board which should hold an open session to make a final determination.

Teachers, Librarians, and others who create curriculum should not be put in the position of determining of what is "sexually explicit." This overly broad category would remove many books valuable to a student's education.

Is a kiss sexually explicit? How many books discuss the pubescent desires of teens that end in a kiss? Should the Bible be banned for its explicit mention of incest, adultery, rape, and other sexually explicit content?

Here are some of the books already banned by parents around the country. Should Virginia teachers follow this example?

  • Most works by Shakespeare which have sexually explicit double-entendres or references to sexual activity.
  • Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
  • Maus: a graphic novel about the Holocaust
  • Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • Most works by James Baldwin
  • Moll Flanders
  • Human biology chapters that describe human reproduction showing male and female genitalia.

Separate from these are books used in Sex Education classes. 

Some books are for older teens and can be labelled to have various kinds of content that may be disturbing, just like movies and TV shows.

There are far better ways to reach agreements on how to use books that are age-appropriate than the blunt instrument of bans. I do not want my tax dollars to support this overly broad standard that stunts the learning of Virginia students.



CommentID: 122704