Virginia Gov. Youngkin Signs Law Requiring Schools to Inform Parents of Sexually Explicit Books

Photo by Anita Jankovic on Unsplash

Last week, Virginia’s Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin signed a law which required state schools to inform parents of sexually explicit books in their children’s classrooms.

This comes after over a year of controversy in the state surrounding explicit books being used in classrooms and made available in school libraries, a story which has captured national attention.

Youngkin, who beat out Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe last year in a campaign which focused strongly on parental rights in the selection of public school curricula, said he was pleased to deliver on this point with the signing of Senate Bill 656.

In a statement last week, Youngkin said that SB 656 and an accompanying bill, HB 938 which expands state transparency for school materials, “both deliver on my Day One promises to give parents a greater say in their children’s education.”

“I’m pleased to sign them into law, along with many other bipartisan bills that will enhance education, improve public safety, provide tax relief, and make government work better for the people of Virginia,” he said.

The bills respectively create a framework through which parents can review questionable school material as well as to participate in the overall process of improving Virginia education standards.

“The Department shall develop and make available to each school board model policies for ensuring parental notification of any instructional material that includes sexually explicit content,” SB 656 reads, as The Christian Post reported.

The model policies include notifying parents as well as “identifying the specific instructional material and sexually explicit subjects” so that parents can “review instructional material that includes sexually explicit content and provide, as an alternative, nonexplicit instructional material and related academic activities to any student whose parent so requests.”

HB 938 requires “a group of stakeholders” comprised of parents and school officials to be convened by the Board of Education to recommend to the General Assembly measures that could improve academic standards and provide more transparency for proficiency standards, the Post explained.

This comes as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and his state Republicans have turned sexuality instruction in public schools into a major national issue with the signing of the Parental Rights in Education Act, which prohibits sexuality education in younger grades and restricts it to “age-appropriate” material for older children.

Last year, a Fairfax County, Virginia parent went viral after reading aloud from two sexually explicit books which she had found in her son’s high school library. One of the books, Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison, featured a dialogue in which sexual contact between a young boy and an adult man was discussed while the graphic novel Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe features descriptions and illustrations of explicit sex acts, including sex between an adult and a child.

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