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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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7/17/22  6:47 pm
Commenter: Nicholas Bauer

SB656–Furthering a political agenda at the expense of students and learning

Education should open doors to conversation and dialogue, not close them.  Senate Bill 656, however, allows parents to make demands of teachers and librarians based on their individual viewpoints over what qualifies as “sexually explicit content,” without taking into account the value of the instructional materials as a whole.

The definition of “sexually explicit” in Virginia’s law is so broad and vague that it could include books by LGBTQ+ authors and about LGBTQ+ experiences. This means a parent could make a book like George by Alex Gino, or even The Grapes of Wrath, inaccessible to the entire classroom based on a single scene or paragraph.  The bill discounts the expertise of educators, who are professionals trained to teach students about complex concepts and subjects, and keeps students from being exposed to diverse viewpoints and stories.  If enacted, this bill would disrupt education and preclude free speech and understanding in the classroom.  Students sheltered from discussion of challenging subjects will graduate ill-prepared to participate in and contribute to democracy in the U.S.

Virginia’s children deserve a public education that opens their minds to varied people and perspectives. They deserve to grow up into well-rounded individuals who can think for themselves, who value truth, diversity, equity, and justice, and who realize Virginia is better when it makes a space for all of its people.  Our children benefited immensely from the diversity of people and viewpoints they experienced at their public primary, middle, and high schools.  Let’s be clear:  this law has the potential of eliminating discussions of race, culture, sexual orientation, gender identity, and how they intersect in the teaching of history, literature, and health in our schools.  I strongly oppose this bill and other attempts to shut down discussion in our schools in the interest of promoting particular viewpoints. 

CommentID: 122671