Hello! I’m a former librarian and the parent of a Virginia public school student, and I’m writing to share my concerns about SB 656.
This bill seems determined to pit parents against librarians and teachers who are supposedly flooding classrooms with sexually explicit content. As a parent, I appreciate being given a heads-up about the materials my child will be using at school. But while I respect the right of other parents to opt their kids out of certain assignments, it shouldn’t come at the expense of respecting our educators.
Librarians and teachers use book reviews, award lists, requests from kids, and many other resources to build a collection that will serve the students in their community. If they’ve included or assigned a book with sexual content, it’s not there because they’re trying to destroy a child’s innocence, as the bill weirdly and insultingly suggests. It’s there because, as a whole, that book will speak to a kid in their community. Maybe a lot of kids. Maybe my kid.
I worry that, because the definition of explicit content in this bill is so broad, teachers and librarians will stop acquiring or assigning books that could be flagged and rejected. I’m also concerned that some parents are confusing sexually explicit content with merely mentioning sexual orientation. I’m afraid (actually, I’m pretty sure) that this will lead to objections over picture books that show a family with two moms or a novel with a character who is gay. I don’t believe parents have the right to opt their kids out of interacting with other human beings—even fictional ones.