Although parents do have a right to protect their children from graphic depictions of sexual activity (as well as of violence, death, and other sensitive topics), this proposal fails the children and youth of Virginia by leaving in place the definition of "sexually explicit content" introduced in subsection A of § 2.2-2827.
I will be clear in my complaint: homosexuality is not inherently sexual content. An act performed between two people does not become sexual or nonsexual based on the gender of the people performing it. There is no ineffable quality that makes a hug between two men "sexual content" and a hug between a man and a woman otherwise. To suggest otherwise by letting this definition stand unaltered is wrong, and it is harmful.
This proposal's stated intent is to allow parents to "exercise their right to decide whether
the use of sexually explicit content in instructional materials is appropriate for
their child." What this proposal will actually do is allow parents to prevent their children from ever being exposed to the idea that romantic love can exist between anyone other than a man and a woman. This will do them a disservice, and it will cause them harm. In 2020, 1.2 million children were enrolled in Virginia public schools. Of those, tens of thousands are members of the LGBTQ+ community and this proposal will send loud and clear the message that they are different from their peers: that their love is different from and inferior to the love of their peers. The remaining students will be sent the same message in reverse: that some of their classmates love in a way that is unacceptable; that inherently explicit; that they must be protected from lest it cause them harm.
Furthermore, I trust the teachers of Virginia's school systems to make decisions about content that are appropriate for their students and that will allow them to grow intellectually and emotionally. Teachers are well-educated, they know their students, and they have their students' best interests at heart. I believe they should be given agency in this matter, and that doing so will lead to improved outcomes for the students they teach and for our society as a whole as those children grow up into our next generation of leaders, entrepreneurs, and -- most importantly -- citizens.
I strongly oppose the passing of the Model Policies Concerning Instructional Materials with Sexually Explicit Content. It will disempower teachers, and it will harm children in ways that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.