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Virginia school boards have to adopt a sexually explicit material policy by the end of the year

School buses parked outside Hopewell High School, on July 26, 2021
Jahd Khalil

School boards across Virginia are about to start considering new policies on sexually explicit materials.

In the next few weeks and months, school boards across Virginia will be considering new policies to make sure parents are notified when schools will be using sexually explicit materials in the classroom. The new policies are a result of a bill introduced by Republican Senator Siobhan Dunnavant of Henrico County.

"Our teachers aren't trying to trick parents into their kids reading something they shouldn't," Dunnavant says. "But making sure those parents are aware of these delicate issues should be a welcome opportunity for teachers."

School boards can either adopt model policies that the State Board of Education recently approved or create their own. Fairfax County School Board member Laura Jane Cohen says she's concerned that the definition of sexually explicit might target marginalized groups.

"You don't ever want to be in a position where you categorize whole classes of people as sexually explicit," she says. "Which I think is a very dangerous attempt from the administration to try to dehumanize our LGTBQ community."

Each local school board in Virginia is required to adopt either the model policy from the state Board of Education or something more comprehensive by the end of the calendar year.

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.