As a parent of two students enrolled in public schools, I am very concerned that this guidance document places onerous demands on educators, namely teachers and librarians, who are already burdened with an increased workload. I also have significant concerns that the opinions of a few parents will restrict learning opportunities for the majority of students.
Thus, this may chill the ability of educators to select materials for their students to learn from that explore complex and timely themes from a variety of perspectives. This will harm students like mine, because of this chilling effect designed to protect the views of the few objectors. The policy asks schools to, "When determining whether instructional materials contain sexually explicit content, teachers, principals, and division staff should consider student age and maturity, and whether a parent might reasonably consider the instructional content harmful to their child. " Which parent are they supposed to consider? This is the essential problem of all of this. I am a reasonable parent. Am I the standard? Or are the extremists that lie about what schools are try to teach the standard?
When will we trust teachers to do their jobs? Our teachers do not want to harm students. Our teachers and librarians want to educate, empower, and inform them.
Furthermore, the Youngkin administration continues to remove the context of The Code of Virginia, § 1-240.1. The Session Law makes it clear that the language was meant to codify parental rights in the context of a dispute about paternity rights NOT in a context related to public education. Why does the administration continue to misinterpret and misapply the statute?
If we look at the statutory definition of "sexually explicit content" in Virginia Code Section 2.2-2827, the most problematically vague language is "sexual conduct." What does that mean? That could be a slippery slope that has a chilling effect on several learning materials. That is an onerous burden to place on a teacher to make that call.
The standards of one parent should not set the learning standards for the rest of us, but under this chilling policy guidance document; I fear that it would. This is not the way Virginia should treat its teachers or students.