Bills targeting explicit content reach Senate committee

Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 6:51 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - How much input parents should have in their children’s education was an issue during the Governor’s race. And the question continues to drive debate in Richmond.

Thursday, members of the Senate Education and Health Committee considered legislation that would require parental notice of sexually explicit materials in public school libraries and classrooms.

“We’re not trying to ban books. We’re not trying to burn books. All we’re trying to do is allow parents to say it’s okay for my children to see this,” said Republican Sen. Bill DeSteph (R-Virginia Beach).

The bill that DeSteph introduced would require public input before explicit materials are made available, and parental permission before they are checked out of public school libraries.

But on that legislation, and another bill requiring schools to notify parents when explicit materials are included in classroom instruction, representatives of the state’s school boards and superintendents said safeguards are already in place, and local school divisions already work with parents to ensure appropriate content.

“School boards are supposed to consider parents, teachers and concerned citizens on all instructional materials,” said Democratic Sen. John Edwards (D-Roanoke). “But to point out certain things like this is pretty close to book banning, and it’s a serious infringement on First Amendment rights. And I think the bill should be defeated.”

The library bill was defeated in the Senate committee. The measure that involved instructional materials appears to be headed in the same direction.

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