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New Virginia law means parents must be alerted to sexually explicit content at school

RICHMOND, Va. — Changes are occurring in the way educational material content is managed in Virginia schools.

A new law ensures that every family in Virginia 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.

Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) officials said the policies are guided by the fact that parents have the right to decide what their child is exposed to. Parents are also allowed to protect their innocence. However, it states that the policy should not be to censor books or class materials based solely on the characters’ sexual orientation.

The policy states that all schools must ensure that parents are informed in advance if schools intend to use sexually explicit material. It defines such content as “Any description, picture, photograph, drawing, motion picture, digital image or similar visual representation depicting sexual bestiality, obscene display of nudity, sexual arousal, sexual conduct or sadomasochistic abuse, of coprophilia, urophilia or fetishism”.

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

It would also require schools to have an up-to-date list on their website and notify parents at least 30 days prior to the use of this material.

“Any content used by one or more students for educational purposes, regardless of (a) its format, whether printed, representative, audio-visual, electronic or digital (such as materials, social media content and applications software accessible via the Internet), or (b) when, where and how the content is used. Library materials are considered instructional materials when used (i) to complete an assignment or (ii) as part of a curricular or extracurricular educational program. This includes all assessments purchased or created by the division, school, and/or class. However, the terms “teaching materials” and “teaching materials” do not do not include standardized national or state assessments, such as the ACT, SAT, NAEP, and AP or SOL exams,” according to VDOE policies.

Some parents weigh in now. Chesterfield’s Ricky Bodsford thinks they shouldn’t teach anything with sexually explicit content at all. He said there was no place for it in the schools and wondered what gave them the right to teach all this.

While Richmond parent Brad Perry thinks the policy is to fabricate a problem he says doesn’t exist. He thinks this is baseless partisan politics.

“I think the policy itself doesn’t add any value to anything because it’s already general practice,” he said.

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

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