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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8/2/22  2:55 pm
Commenter: Bruce David Rieder, Equality UUCA

Guidance Document fails to provide clear guidance.

I am opposed to the model guidelines for many reasons as expressed by many commenters in opposition but given the fact that this opaque legislation was unfortunately passed and signed, I believe it incumbent on the Board to clarify at least two aspects of implementation.

First, the model policy as proposed lacks a specific, explicit statement that subject matter in literature and other academic subjects related to the existence of lesbian, gay, homosexual, bisexual, transgender, intersex, or asexual people is not implicitly "sexually explicit content". It was never the stated intent or plain language of this legislation to create the condition where people of these identities could not be discussed in the classroom. The failure to include such an explicit statement subjects the interpretation of "sexually explicit content" to uncertainty and at least self censorship by educational professionals as well as parental confusion. One has only to read many of the comments here to see that parental confusion already in existence and assuming an intent for the legislation that does not exist.  The fact is that LGBTQIA people exist in the world, and in the classroom, and no amount of parental concern changes the fact any more, for example, than that parental concern about the human cruelty of of war leads to our classrooms not teaching the reality that war exists in the world the students inhabit. 

Secondly, the policy lacks a procedure for addressing current events that occur outside of the academic calendar "prior to the beginning of the academic year" or at least 30 days before materials are used/discussed. Discussion of current events is an integral part of teaching many academic disciplines including social studies, history, civics, and literature as a way that students can appreciate historical parallels to their own lived experience.

The guidelines as written do not clarify the legislation as is the purpose of guidelines and leads to interpretations on the ground that are at odds with the legislative intent expressed.

CommentID: 124585