SPRINGFIELD – Should parents be made aware if their kids are being taught at school from materials considered "sexually explicit"? Would you as a parent want to know?
Those are questions being tossed around in the Virginia state legislature. The legislature said yes, parents should be notified, but Monday, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed the measure that landed on his desk, saying educators rejected the idea. Educators are concerned that “sexually explicit” could be applied to a work based on one scene, without further context.
“Numerous educators, librarians, students, and others involved in the teaching process have expressed their concerns about the real-life consequences of this legislation’s requirements,” the statement said.
The issue was raised when a Fairfax County student said in 2013 that the book “Beloved,” written by author Toni Morrison, gave him night terrors and was “gross.” The novel is about a former slave who kills her 2-year-old daughter rather than return her to slavery, the Virginia Pilot reported.
The bill's sponsor, Viriginia Delegate Steve Landes, said the idea was common sense.
“Parents make decisions every day about what video games kids play, what movies they watch, and what material they consume online. They should have the same opportunity within the classroom,” Landes said in a statement.
During debate on the bill in the Senate, Sen. Tom Garrett, R-Buckingham County, read from another of Morrison’s novels, called “The Bluest Eye.” The nature of the reading prompted other senators to ask him to stop, and Sen. John Cosgrove of Chesapeake said it was “one of the worst” speeches he’d heard in the Senate. “I’m ashamed,” he said.