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Sexually explicit material notification legislation may be headed for a gubernatorial signature

Governor Glenn Youngkin may soon be receiving a bill that would allow him to deliver on a campaign promise to notify parents when their children will be learning about sexually explicit material.

During the campaign for governor, Glenn Youngkin repeatedly attacked Terry McAuliffe for vetoing a bill that would have required schools notify parents when their children will be reading books with sexually explicit content. Now, the state Senate has passed a bill similar to the one McAuliffe vetoed in 2016.

Senator Amanda Chase is a Republican from Chesterfield.

"This last election proved that parents want a say in their child's education," she says. "And we as a General Assembly and the Senate need to respect the wishes of parents instead of pushing what the government thinks is best for our kids."

Most Senate Democrats voted against the bill, arguing that the notification process would create a chilling effect on what kinds of material teachers would consider teaching. Senator Ghazala Hashmi is a Democrat from Chesterfield.

"When we're talking about sexually explicit content that comes under banning, however, it's not Chaucer. It's not Shakespeare," Hashmi explains. "Invariably, it is the writing of Black and brown authors. We've seen this debate take place publicly in the writings particularly recently of Toni Morrison."

Anger over Toni Morrison's Pulitzer-prize winning book "Beloved" prompted some parents in Fairfax County to start advocating for this law back in 2016. Now, they may finally be getting the kind of notification they're been wanting for years.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.