LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. (DC News Now) — On Thursday night, Loudoun County’s Curriculum and Instruction Committee took its first look at a policy that would require parents to be told anytime a material contains sexually explicit content.
The draft of the policy says the district will identify any materials that include sexually explicit content and inform parents at least 30 days before the material would be used in the classroom. Then, parents can review that material and request an alternative for their child if they want.
The new state-mandated policy was championed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin and Republicans and touted as a way to bolster parental rights.
The committee members say there’s still some work to be done before the entire school board passes the policy — but it does face a Jan. 1, 2023 deadline to do so. In those few short months, board members hope feedback from stakeholders will be received, and conversations will be had.
At Thursday’s meeting, some parents said they don’t want sexually explicit materials taught at all.
“Tell me what redeeming quality that has in a school system,” Clint Thomas said during “Why can’t we just teach academics?”
In an interview after the meeting, Thomas said, “Parents are actually in charge of our kids’ education. We don’t advocate that to the state.”
Michael Rivera added parents should be the ones reviewing the material to decide if it’s sexually explicit.
“The school board and the administration is working backward,” he said.
The policy cites Virginia State Code as the language that will determine if something is “sexually explicit.” But that has received pushback from LGBTQ+ advocates because the state code says “sexual conduct” includes “homosexuality.”
“It’s correct that those are the terms that are used by Virginia law, so it’s something we have to be aware of and try and mitigate as we continue to take a look at the policy,” Ian Serotkin, a school board member and the chair of the committee, said in an interview after the meeting.
There’s also the question of the resources it will take to fulfill the policy — a concern brought up by Erika Weiskopf, who shared a critique of the policy on her mother’s behalf. Her mom, Andrea, an LCPS teacher, was unable to attend the meeting so Erika read a statement she wrote.
“Pushback is needed in regards to carrying out this politically engineered policy,” she said. “How is any division going to review all resources? This is an enormous and expensive task.”
LCPS says examples of books that might be identified as containing sexually explicit material under the proposed policy include:
- Kite Runner by Kahled Hosseini
- Beloved by Toni Morrison
- Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
- The Odyssey by Homer
- Circe by Madeline Miller
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
- 1984 by George Orwell
- Monday is Not Coming by Tiffany Jackson
- Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
- Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The policy will be brought back before the C&I Committee on Nov. 7. After the committee advances the policy, it will be brought in front of the entire school board on Nov. 15 or 29, and then voted on either Nov. 29 or Dec. 13.