A majority of Americans likely agree that it is wholly inappropriate for school teachers to discuss sexually explicit materials and subjects in classrooms with students, at least not without notifying and seeking the approval of those students’ parents first.
That is now the law in Virginia as Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) signed a bill last week requiring a policy of transparency on such matters from the state’s Department of Education and local school boards, The Daily Caller reported.
School boards have until Jan. 1, 2023, to fully abide by the new requirement, which is but one part of Youngkin’s broader effort to respect and uphold the rights of parents when it comes to the education of their children.
This particular bill was actually just one of more than 100 pieces of legislation that Gov. Youngkin signed into law last week, according to a press release from his office.
SB 656 requires Virginia’s Department of Education to craft a model policy by June 31, 2022 — with the local school boards to adopt or expand upon later — that would ensure parental notification of sexually explicit classroom instruction, directly identify the sexually explicit materials in question, and provide non-explicit materials as an alternative for students whose parents decline to grant their approval for the sexually explicit materials.
Notably, the bill made it clear that the policy would only apply to in-classroom instruction and would not condone or encourage the censorship of any books in the libraries of public elementary or secondary schools.
In addition to that measure, Gov. Youngkin also signed into law a bill known as HB 938, which addresses performance standards policies in public schools in the state.
That new law will place a renewed emphasis on achieving grade-level proficiency for subjects like mathematics and reading, increases the transparency of policies regarding performance standards for students, and expand the Advanced Studies Diploma program for high school students.
The Daily Caller noted that a lack of transparency regarding performance standards, as well as the perception that schools were neglecting fundamental subjects like math and reading in favor of critical race theory and social justice, were common complaints from some Virginia parents ahead of 2021’s gubernatorial election that Youngkin prevailed in, due in large part to his focus on educational and parental rights issues.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), who was defeated by Youngkin last year, had previously vetoed a similar parental notification for sexually explicit classroom instruction bill, which Youngkin had appropriately keyed on during his successful campaign.
In his press release announcing the blitz of bill signings last week, Youngkin specifically highlighted SB 656 and HB 938, in that “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,” the governor added.