This bill is unnecessary, extremely harmful, and counter productive to the tenants of public education. If the superficial intent is to allow parents access to the information taught to their children, then this bill is superfluous as that is already a parental right.
The true intent and impact of Senate Bill 656 is classroom censorship. The term “sexually explicit content” is an extremely broad term that can be used by anyone, based on their personal opinion, to exclude information from a classroom. This will impact all students in the class, not just the child whose parent objects to the information. Censorship would deprive students in Virginia of their freedom of thought and expression, which is foundational in a free nation. For students to grow and learn they must be exposed to new ideas and various viewpoints, bettering their understanding of self and the world in which we live.
Additionally, in order for children to have access to their ability to learn, lower foundational needs must be satiated; children must feel safe in order to make the connections to absorb learning and engage long term memory. This bill is a huge step backward in building more inclusive school environments and creating critical thinkers.