Classrooms are a place where children should be free to ask questions, explore new ideas, and learn about diverse viewpoints. The proposed model policies are instead devised to limit the content of inquiries and information, especially related to LGBTQIA+ stories and experiences. Even more harmfully, they are likely to limit the access of potentially life-affirming and even life-saving information by our LGBTQIA+ youth. Representation matters, and all Virginia youth deserve an opportunity to see themselves and be themselves.
The true intent and purpose of Senate Bill 656 is censorship. The overly broad and amorphous definition of “sexually explicit content” will allow narrow-minded parents to negatively impact the learning opportunities afforded to all students. Parents in Virginia already have the right and ability to impact what their own children learn. Under the guise of parental “involvement,”, this misguided policy would allow censorship by the very few and the further marginalization of LGBTQIA+ youth.
As defined in the policy, the term “sexually explicit content” can include everything from teaching history to excluding the discussion of LGBTQIA+ families in family life classes. This is absolutely unacceptable, not unlike Florida’s discriminatory bill restricting any mention of homosexuality.
Virginia students deserve an opportunity to learn about the whole world, not just the hetero-normative world. Gallup found that more than 7% of US adults identify as something other than straight and this percentage has steadily increased since 2012. At least 1 in 14 students would be deprived of information at school that would allow them and their families to be treated as normal, We owe it to our students to offer a world-class education that doesn’t pretend they or their families don’t exist.
I strongly oppose this model policy