New Virginia law means parents must be alerted to any sexually-explicit material at school

Posted at 3:06 PM, Oct 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-01 17:13:56-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Changes are coming to how instructional material content is being handled in Virginia schools.

A new law ensures every Virginia family will be notified if their child will be exposed to sexually-explicit content in public schools. School boards now have until January to adopt the policies or something more comprehensive.

Officials with the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) said the policies are guided by the fact that parents have rights to decide what their child is exposed to. Parents are also allowed to protect their innocence. However, it states the policy should not be put in place censor books or classroom material based solely upon the sexual orientation of the characters.

The policy reads that all schools must ensure parents have advanced notice if schools intend to use any sexually-explicit material. It defines that content to be “Any description, picture, photograph, drawing, motion picture film, digital image or similar visual representation depicting sexual bestiality, a lewd exhibition of nudity, sexual excitement, sexual conduct or sadomasochistic abuse, coprophilia, urophilia, or fetishism.”

Parents will be able to review the materials and have the opportunity for their child to find an alternative. Schools would need to create a process for this and identify all materials to parents before the start of the school year.

It also would require schools to have a current list on their website, and notify parents at least 30 days out when that material will be used.

“Any content used by one or more students for an educational purpose, regardless of (a) its format, whether printed, representational, audiovisual, electronic, or digital (such as materials, social media content, and software applications accessible through the internet), or (b) the time, place and manner in which the content is used. Library materials are considered instructional materials when used (i) for completion of an assignment, or (ii) as part of an academic or extracurricular educational program. This includes any division, school, and/or classroom purchased or created assessments. However, the phrases “instructional material” and “instructional materials” do not include standardized national or state assessments, such ACT, SAT, NAEP, and AP or SOL exam,” according to the VDOE policies.

Some parents are now weighing in. Ricky Bodsford of Chesterfield feels they shouldn’t be teaching anything with sexually-explicit content at all. He said there’s no place for that in schools, and questions what gives them the right to teach any of that.

While Richmond Parent Brad Perry thinks this policy is about fabricating an issue he believes doesn’t exist. He believes it is baseless partisan politicking.

“I think the policy itself adds no value to anything because it’s already a general practice,” he said.

Click here to read the policy and see a sample offered for consideration by local school boards.

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