Bill on sexually explicit books, similiar to Fairfax Co. policy, gets final OK in Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A bill that would force schools to notify parents if their children are to be assigned to read books with sexually explicit content is heading to Virginia’s Democratic governor.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe has not said whether he will sign the bill, which a library expert says would be the first of its kind in the country.

The Republican-controlled House sent the measure to McAuliffe with a 77-21 vote Thursday. It passed the Senate earlier this week.

The bill would also require schools to provide an alternative to the sexually explicit book if a parent objects.

At Fairfax County Public Schools, there is similar policy to what’s been approved by state lawmakers.

School spokesman John Torre explains that at the beginning of the school year, parents of high school students receive a course syllabus or book list that details whether books may contain mature content, including offensive language, violence, and/or implied or explicit sexual situations.

If parents and/or students object to an assigned novel, an alternative reading assignment will be provided, Torre says. That policy was put in place in Fairfax County Public Schools beginning in fall of 2014.

In Stafford County Public Schools, parents have to explain in writing to the school principal objections they have to assigned subjects or content. With a principal’s approval, teachers are then allowed to substitute an alternative assignment.

Democratic Del. Alfonso Lopez said forcing teachers to define a book by a “single, undefined standard” is a “form of censorship.”

But Republican Del. Steve Landes, the bill’s sponsor, said opponents are misrepresenting the measure.

WTOP’s Kristi King contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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