Whose definition of "sexually explicit content" will prevail under this proposed Virginia law? It seems that anyone with a bias about gender orientation or premarital sex or interracial sex, etc., will have a say (and possibly, the FINAL say) in dictating what books our students can read, and our educators can discuss, in our public schools.
Aren't the best schools the ones that challenge our youth to consider the wider world and the people populating it? Aren't the best curriculums those that expand our youths' viewpoints and understanding of their fellow humans and the dynamics of relationships beyond their own experience.
Our teachers are well trained to navigate sensitive topics and help their students do the same. They are experienced in leading pertinent discussions that enable their students to explore various issues and come to their own conclusions about diversity, inclusion, equity, and community.
Finally, parents always have the right to opt their children out of reading and discussing books that they believe are inappropriate. This is the safeguard already available to those parents.
In a democratic society, we do not allow individuals, whether due to their religious beliefs or other belief systems, to manage the rights of others to free expression. This is censorship and it is wrong. I am strongly opposed to SB 656 and believe that it must not be promulgated.