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  1:31 am
Commenter: Carolyn Caywood

Model Policies Concerning Instructional Materials with Sexually Explicit Content

I read the legal definition in subsection A of § 2.2-2827 and I doubt materials in schools fall within it.  However, I am concerned that the inclusion of “homosexuality” in the definition will be interpreted as a blanket prohibition of information about LGBTQ+ people, not just of sexually explicit content.

I also recently read the book Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe. It offered insights into living with a gender identity outside the simplistic duality society expects. The book was called obscene but I did not see anything in it that was sexually exciting. In fact, the author ultimately identified as asexual, about as far as one could be from sexually explicit.

But that didn’t stop attacks on high school librarians who followed selection procedures and made the book available. It is no wonder we are faced with a teacher shortage when they are harassed and accused of breaking vague laws that can be twisted to declare whole categories of people obscene.

Thus I think the Model Policies needs to be reworked so there is no risk of enabling blanket prohibitions on content about LGBTQ+ people. There are students who are living the same struggle that author Kobabe describes. They need information and affirmation that they are not alone.

As for other students, the core purpose of education is to cultivate thinking skills that the student can apply throughout life. We all encounter fresh information that challenges what we learned in the past. If all a student knows is to hide from challenging ideas, he or she will be increasingly handicapped as the world changes.

CommentID: 124696