Groups Oppose Banning LGBTQ+ Books in Virginia Schools

The Virginia Department of Education on Aug. 3 closed its window for public input on model policies governing instructional materials deemed to have sexually explicit content. 

Under the proposed Model Policies Concerning Instructional Materials with Sexually Explicit Content, parents of public school students would be notified of books or instructional materials with “sexually explicit” content. 

Several groups including, Equality Loudoun, asked people to take action to protect books with LGBTQ+ subject matter within the county’s school libraries before the deadline.

The controversy surrounds Senate Bill 656, which was signed into law by Gov. Glenn Youngkin on April 6. 

The law requires the VDOE to develop model polices for ensuring parental notification of any instructional material that include sexually explicit content. Additionally, the model polices are required to address how to directly identify specific instructional material and sexually explicit subjects and allow the parents to review that material and get alternative non-explicit material when requested. The law requires the development of model polices by July 31, and that local school boards adopt the polices no later than Jan. 1, 2023. 

Rivka Vizcardo-Lichter, 15, co-president of Pride Liberation, a Northern Virginia based student led nonprofit that woks to protect the rights of queer students, said the core of the law is a good idea. “Nobody wants sexually explicit content in schools,” she said. But what she does take issue with is a reference within the law that cites “sexual content” to include “homosexuality.”

“The issue is under that context it defines queer people just existing as sexually explicit content,” she said.

She said the way that content is defined in the law has irreparable effects on LGBTQ+ students in Virginia. 

Vizcardo-Lichter is referring to a state code provision that defines sexually explicit content to include drawings, pictures, photographs, films, bestiality, sexual conduct, sadomasochistic abuse and lewd nudity among other things. A subsection lists homosexuality as part of the definition of sexual conduct.

She said it would make all references to LGBTQ+ people and issues—including Supreme Court cases, historical events, and discussions about LGBTQ+ authors—sexually explicit. 

“On the surface it seems like a harmless run of the mill bill, but when you dig deeper you see Virginia code defines sexual content as homosexuality. It’s a very intentionally vague bill meant to hide more dangerous intentions. It means anything involving same sex relationships are impacted by the guidelines depending on how the guidelines are formed,” Vizcardo-Lichter said, essentially erasing LGBTQ+ representation in the school curricula.

On Aug. 3, Pride Liberation released a letter with 600+ student signatures calling for the Virginia Department of Education to clarify regulations that could be interpreted to define queer people as “sexually explicit.” 

“For me, the most glaring obvious part is that heterosexual isn’t included. It’s the rhetoric that anything other than heterosexual is inherently sexual. It’s rhetoric that the queer community have been fighting against for years,” she said. “The feeling is indescribable. I’m shocked and hurt that my existence and some of my friend’s existence is deemed sexually explicit content. That it’s inherently sexual just to exist.” 

The letter asks the VDOE to explicitly state that instruction about LGBTQ+ people is not inherently sexual, as it develops guidelines around the law.

In an email, Equality Loudoun said it does not oppose parental involvement or the notification of truly sexually explicit material, but it does strongly oppose the policy because of the definition of “sexual content” includes homosexuality.

Equality Loudoun said the law essentially labels LGBTQ+ books in the same category as pornography.

“The way this term is defined is just wrong. You might think it’s not a big deal for a term to be defined incorrectly. But the effect of that is very damaging to queer students and damaging to all students to be deprived of an education that does not include queer students. And its damaging for queer students to get an education where they are not represented,” Vizcardo-Lichter said.

Equality Loudoun argues that age-appropriate LGBTQ+ books are helpful to queer children in finding context, purpose and humanity. 

Ian Prior, with Fight for Schools, a political action committee opposing progressive policies in Loudoun County said, “We applaud the Youngkin Administration for listening to parents and encouraging more parental involvement and consent with what is being taught in the schools that parents pay for with their taxes. We hope that Loudoun County Public Schools will be just as diligent in complying with model guidelines from this Department of Education as they were under the previous administration.”

Jim Chapman, the regulatory and legal Coordinator for the Office of Board Relations for the Virginia Department of Education responded to Pride Liberation’s letter in an email saying they appreciated their comments, and they will be reviewed by VDOE staff and considered along with other comments shared. 

8 thoughts on “Groups Oppose Banning LGBTQ+ Books in Virginia Schools

  • 2022-08-04 at 4:19 pm
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    The people who have used the schools to sexualize and groom children are upset that they may no longer be able to do so so openly. I’m glad my children were homeschooled and didn’t have to endure this indoctrination. I suggest that parents take their children out of these indoctrination centers and find a private school that will educate them. There are several new options available to residents this fall. If you haven’t, find an option or look into homeschooling.

  • 2022-08-04 at 4:34 pm
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    Why does ‘Equality Loudoun’ think it is a good idea to have any sexually explicit books in the public schools? This is true whether the subject matter is between hetero or homo sexuals. If students want to read books that are sexually explicit there is always the public library, or they and their parents can buy the material. Another agenda that is politically motivated/

    • 2022-08-05 at 6:52 am
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      It sounds like people are not bothering to read the article at all. They explicitly said they agree that pornography should not be available to children, but the law in vague in that their existence is being erroneously labeled as sexually explicit.

  • 2022-08-04 at 9:01 pm
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    Equality Loudoun said in a tweet that students should not be outed to their parents by the schools in large colored capitals they posted NEVER! Is that a classic definition of groomer, hiding information from parents? Gothard is so wrapped up on gay nonsense he should be banned with the explicit books.

  • 2022-08-04 at 10:32 pm
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    I tend to agree with Equality Loudoun & the other groups. Please stop demonizing LGBTQ+ folks by reducing them to mere sex objects. They’re so much more than that. Nobody is trying to groom anyone’s child to become LGBTQ+. That’s an old trope that I thought went out with Anita Bryant in the 1970s. I get queasy when folks start messing with LGBTQ+ books. Do some parents have so little faith in their children that they need to place added restrictions on such books? After all, if a child is determined to read LGBTQ+ content, they always have the Internet to pursue. On a brighter note, Happy Couscous Day Loudoun!

  • 2022-08-05 at 7:19 am
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    Consistently, the liberals want to over power parents in relation to any and everything they deem appropriate. God gave us two genders, end of story. If your child has been exposed to homosexuality and or transgenderism, of course they will want to pursue. Their neurons aren’t developed and they won’t reach maturity to the age of 21. They need parental guidance. It is the parent’s responsibilities not the schools to educate their own children and not expose them to any social ills. You don’t hear anything about teaching them the 10 commandments. The studies done by PHd levels across the world has proven to show that boys listen to their moms (not teachers). A mother’s impact on her son is instrumental in preventing unwanted pregnancies. In fact, having intimate conversations with your children will help spare them of awkward social situations including shop lifting, bullying. Teach them the conversations. Parents impact more; moms have proven to be the best educator. “Would you put your clean foot in someone else’s shoe?” These conversations about providing health care to woman never mentions stds. Hepatitis has higher numbers vs aids. Do you want health care.? Because if millions of women obtain health care for free shouldn’t it include how to prevent stds especially the ones that can kill? The liberals skew on every facet of your child’s growth. Don’t permit it. Read and watch what they want your child or children to be exposed too. I was listening to a child’s cartoon the other day on TV. He is 5. The mother of one of the character who is 15 years old was stating it is not fair our government won’t allow you to vote at the age of 16. Really? Do you want your children growing up thinking this? Start watching their programs, their gaming, read their books. The messaging has got to stop.

  • 2022-08-05 at 11:10 am
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    People just want to be validated. They want to be able to read about people like them. Stories that reflect their own experiences and feelings. They are sick of the never ending attacks and hatred from the right. And make no mistake – this is about hate.

    Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. A worthy goal, don’t you think?

  • 2022-08-05 at 12:58 pm
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    While I can understand and sympathize with Ms. Vizcardo-Lichter’s position, it should be made clear,(as the Loudoun Now reporter should have done for this to be a legitimate article), that the model policies had to be written within the confines of the law and definitions set forth by the General Assembly. The VDOE Model Policies define Sexual Conduct EXACTLY as is written in law. It should also be noted that NO SEXUALLY EXPLICIT content is permissible, heterosexual or otherwise, for MINOR CHILDREN. The policy does not exclude stories about people who are homosexual, only sexual acts. ALL acts of intercourse and sex acts are banned as depicted for children under 18, as it should be per the law defined by the General Assembly.

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