Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Education
State Board of Education
Regulations Governing Local School Boards and School Divisions [8 VAC 20 ‑ 720]
Action Amendments Regarding Use of Controversial or Sensitive Instructional Materials
Comment Period Ended on 1/15/2014
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1/15/14  10:03 am
Commenter: Nicole Carter, High School English Teacher (CCS)


Having teachers make a list of what students or parents may or may not deem as "sensitive" has negative effects for both teachers and students.  First, it would be nearly impossible for teachers to list every single subject or issue that students or parents "may" find sensitive in every piece of literature or article that students may encounter over the course of the year.  It would be a simple guessing game because what one person finds sensitive another doesn't, and vice versa. Additionally, it takes away from the overall experience of an English class where students can encounter and discuss real-life issues in fictional texts that they will possibly encounter in their own lives in the future.  Also, some non-fictional pieces, though "sensitive," are essential for enlightening students and making them aware of the world in which they live.    

Teachers are capable of handling issues of sensitive matters with both students and parents, and there should always be an an open line of communication.  If there are any problems that arise, it can be handled in a case-by-case manner.  I'm sure there aren't many, if any, teachers who would deny a student the opportunity to read an alternative title if there is something that a parent deems "inappropriate."  Ultimately, it's not wise to shelter kids from "sensitive" matters-- especially when they will be able to discuss, question, analyze, and make judgments in a safe environment in the classroom.  It's not like teenagers aren't already subjected to substantially more "sensitive" matters on television, in movies, in music, on social media networks, and even, in some cases, in their daily interactions with their peers.  Why not let them think it through, hear multiple viewpoints, and discuss age-appropriate "sensitive" matters appropriately.  Finally, it's the parents job to later have these discussions with their children for reinforcement to, again, prepare them for the "real world".  

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