Va. legislature: Give parents veto over sexually charged school books

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The House of Delegates meets during the first day of the 2015 General Assembly session on Wednesday in Richmond. (Kaitlin McKeown / Daily Press)
The House of Delegates meets during the first day of the 2015 General Assembly session on Wednesday in Richmond. (Kaitlin McKeown / Daily Press)

The House of Delegates meets during the first day of the 2015 General Assembly session on Wednesday in Richmond. (Kaitlin McKeown / Daily Press)

RICHMOND – The state Senate voted Tuesday to give parents veto power over sexually explicit in school following a charged debate that dipped into the Bible, mentioned transgender bathrooms and got one senator called out by his colleagues for reading explicit passages.

The bill eventually passed 22-17, with state Sen. Lynwood Lewis, D-Accomack, the only Democrat joining with the Republican majority in favor. House Bill 516 had had already cleared the House of Delegates unanimously, but the Senate made a small change, so it goes back to the House for at least one more vote.

The measure would have the State Board of Education come up with criteria to identify sexually explicit material so schools can inform parents ahead of time. Parents who object could opt their students out, and alternative books would be provided.

The policy is similar to what the state does now for sex education classes, but it focuses largely on literature classes. A Northern Virginia parent brought the issue forward after one of her sons was told to read the Pulitzer Prize winning book “Beloved,” by Toni Morrison.

“I think that makes the point, doesn’t it?” said Garrett, R-Louisa.

Republicans emphasized that this is a parental choice bill, not outright removal of books. Senate Democrats said they feared a slippery slope toward censorship, and taking power out of local hands. Other bill critics have said some teachers may cast aside great works with sexual passages to avoid teaching two books at once. (Read more: http://www.dailypress.com/news/politics/dp-nws-ga-sexy-books-20160301-story.html)


 

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