Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Education
State Board of Education
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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8/3/22  11:51 am
Commenter: Aleta E. Strickland, Ed. NCSP, Licensed School Psychologist

Strongly oppose this proposed redundant and bigoted policy

I have worked as a school psychologist for three decades and a mental health provider in private practice for a decade and a half.

The proposed policy is unnecessary and redundant. Schools already have many policies they must follow and asking them to repeat the same steps is a waste of professionals’ time. Currently if any parent has a concern about a specific instructional material, most school divisions have a review process in place. Additionally, parents can opt their children out of any specific lesson.

Librarians are education professionals who should be trusted to do their jobs to educate all children. Teachers are professionals who should be trusted to do their jobs to select materials that help students to learn more than what they already know about their world.   

This particular policy appears to target LGBTQ+ topics. That is, it aims to eliminate any materials with LGBTQ+ themes or characters. This population is already marginalized and often targeted for bullying. Sexually explicit is defined in this policy to include bestiality, lewd exhibition of nudity, sadomasochistic abuse, coprophlia, urophilia, or fetishism. Attempting to confound LGBTQ+ children with sexual deviance is disrespectful and just plain wrong.

The guiding principles of this document are quite lopsided. It mentions confidence in parents, respect for parent decision-making, and respect parents’ rights to protect their childrens’ innocence.  Lacking in this document is confidence in trained and experienced educators, respect for professional educators’ decision-making in selecting appropriate teaching materials, and respect for students natural curiosity ot learn about new topics.

Public schools are meant to be welcoming places for all of our students, including those who are LGBTQ+. They deserve to be represented in instructional materials just like every other student. Anything less is censorship. Research shows us that welcoming school climates increase academic achievement and decrease behavioral incidents. Isn’t that what all parents and educators want?


CommentID: 124781