I live in Newport News, VA.
I am very troubled by the VDOE's model policies concerning instructional materials with "sexually explicit content," a broadly vague term that could be applied to many important, viewpoint-expanding works of literature.
I believe that classrooms are places where students should be introduced to viewpoints they may not have considered before - where they can ask questions, explore new ideas, and take in the lived experiences of folks similar and different from them alike. I am deeply concerned that the proposed model policies could lead to exclusions on materials and literature that introduce students to stories, experiences, and histories of LGBTQ+ folks, Black folks, Indigenous peoples, and people of color more broadly.
We must trust the teachers and librarians, who all have training and subject-matter expertise, to introduce new and thought-provoking ideas to our bright and caring students.
The proposed model policies would make it hard for educators to do their jobs and will likely result in censorship due to teacher and librarian's fear or concern over what qualifies as "sexually explicit content."
Virginia students deserve schools that foster curiosity and celebrate diversity of thought and experiences. This proposed model policy would stamp those two things out of our schools.
I vehemently oppose the proposed model policies for these reasons.