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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  11:12 pm
Commenter: Ruth DL

Oppose - No Vague and Restrictive Conditions on Certified/Trained Educators

I strongly oppose imposing such a restrictive condition on teachers and schools. If a parent or guardian doesn't want their child/ward to be taught something, then they can deny their child the  education. Those parents can pull their students from classes and school days. They should not get to deny other students from other families with other values a proper, public education that those families paid for with their taxes. The bill discounts the expertise of educators who are trained to teach students about complex concepts and subjects, and keeps students from being exposed to diverse viewpoints and stories. This new law will further disrupt the education of young children and keep classrooms from being thriving grounds for free speech and understanding. 

Teachers, with teaching degrees or certifications, should be teaching children about science. Science includes anatomy, changes that bodies may go through during puberty, and hygiene, among other topics related to a wholesome and whole adult member of society. Teachers should NOT be told to omit topics because some parents in a school system want to impose their religious or other similar belief systems onto other people's children. This is just creating a system whereby parents or other individuals who have been taught to be uncomfortable with a subject are passing their discomfort onto future generations. School is meant to be a place of educating the next generation based on facts and covering information learned over time (not limited to what was known or accepted at the time when older generations went to grade school). 

Education should open doors to conversation and dialogue, not close them. Social and cultural studies are a significant part of any student's education. This means openly teaching facts of history, including civil rights movements, LGBTQIA+ liberation movements, and factual (not fractal) history of the United States. History and the social sciences must remain core curriculum requirements to produce intelligent, adjusted, and aware members of a civil society. Teachers should not be told to ignore swaths of history because some parents in a school system want to impose their religious or other similar beliefs on all peoples. Lest we forget, the U.S. Constitution codifies that every citizen has the right to freely practice their chosen religion. More importantly to this situation is that the same Constitutional protection guarantees the right to remain free FROM religion. Requiring teachers to omit core education would mean some parents or guardians are establishing their religious beliefs on other people's children. That is inappropriate and not the foundation within the right to a public, state education.  

The definition of “sexually explicit” in Virginia’s law is so broad and vague. It gives too much power to individuals who are not only not experts, but would stymie student growth. Virginia’s children deserve a public education that opens their minds to varied people and perspectives. They deserve to grow up into well-rounded individuals who can think for themselves, who value truth, diversity, equity, and justice, and who realize Virginia is better when it makes a space for all of its people. Let’s be clear, this law has the potential of eliminating discussions of race, culture, sexual orientation, gender identity, and how they intersect in the teaching of history, literature, and health in our schools.  

CommentID: 122755