School Board Begins Review of Mandated Sexually Explicit Material Policy

School Board members Thursday nigh were presented a new draft policy that will bring the division in line with Virginia Board of Education guidance on sexually explicit content.

During the Sept. 23 meeting of the Curriculum and Instruction Committee, Assistant Superintendent Ashley Ellis and Executive Director of Teaching and Learning Neil Slevin briefed members Ian Serotkin (Blue Ridge) and Harris Mahedavi (Ashburn) on the first draft of the new policy, Policy 5055 that would require notifying parents of sexually explicit content in instructional materials. They said another policy which sets procedures for the selection, review, and challenge of educational material also would need to be updated with the new policy.

Committee member Atoosa Reaser (Algonkian) was absent.

Policy 5055 includes protocols to identify all instructional material with sexually explicit content, to notify parents of such content, to allow parents to review the sexually explicit material and to make sure alternative materials are provided for any student who requests it.

Ellis said the new policy is based on VDOE guidance with a few minor differences. Those include an expanded definition section and the addition of a section stating that the censorship of books may not be based solely on the sexual orientation or gender identity of the characters featured. The state Department of Education’s model policy had drawn concerns that it may be discriminatory based on those.

According to both the state’s model policy and the proposed division policy, library materials are not considered instructional material unless used for an assignment or part of an extracurricular educational program.

Parents are to have 30 days advance notice if instructional material is considered sexually explicit, according to the new policy. It also states the division will maintain a list of instructional material with sexually explicit material on its website.

“Much of the intent of Policy 5055 aligns to our current practice with the selection of texts in our classrooms,” Slevin said, noting that the current practice in secondary schools is to offer alternative materials.

Ellis said the presentation to the committee was just the beginning of a conversation expected to take many weeks and they “felt it was important enough to be very clear and to take our time and be very thorough with this process.”

Slevin said steps are already being taken to work with families in relation to school libraries, including increased transparency as to what books have been challenged, increased support of schools for selection of materials, and an increase in the oversite of which books are being purchased in schools.

During the presentation, Slevin said eight books were pulled out of circulation over concerns last year. He said of those, only one title was removed. He pointed out a list of notable books that might be identified as containing sexually explicit content under the VDOE policy, including “Kite Runner” by Kahled Hosseini, “1984” by George Orwell, “The Odyssey” by Homer, and “Beloved” by Toni Morrison.

The process over the next several months to get the new policy approved includes gathering input from the public as well as from key stakeholder groups. It will go before the Curriculum and Instruction Committee as an action item Nov. 7, according to Wayde Byard, Loudoun County Public Schools public information officer. It must go before the full board for a vote, the latest that could be is the Dec. 13 School Board meeting.  Policy 5045, on selecting school materials, will be brought up again at the next iteration of policy 5055, Ellis said.

Ellis said the staff is expecting additional policy guidance from the Virginia School Boards Association sometime in October. She noted that it is unusual for the VSBA to develop a policy, but it is expected to be similar to the VDOE guidance.

The 2022 Model Policies were created after the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 656 into law in April. The bill added a section to Virginia Code requiring parental notification of any instructional material that included sexually explicit content and included directly identifying specific instructional material with sexually explicit subjects and provide a review by parents and allow for an alternative material choice. The 2022 Model Polices are required by law and school boards are required to adopt them either as is or altered to be “more comprehensive than the model policies developed by the Department,” according to the model polices. 

School boards across the state now have until Jan 1 to create and implement polices similar to the model ones.

13 thoughts on “School Board Begins Review of Mandated Sexually Explicit Material Policy

  • 2022-09-23 at 4:12 pm
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    I’m concerned about parents who are taking censorship to a ridiculous extreme. At the meeting, a Father called for the removal of all Pride flags displayed at LCPS facilities. He also called for the removal of all sexually-oriented content within the schools. Does that mean he wants The Diary of a Young Girl removed because Anne Frank wrote briefly about homoeroticism? Moreover, the parent insisted LCPS notify all parents when an outside speaker is scheduled to speak at an LCPS school. That’s far too burdensome, in my opinion. Please folks. Let’s be reasonable about things. Happy Rosh Hashanah Loudoun!

    • 2022-09-23 at 9:31 pm
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      So you are ok with teachers handing MAGA flags? Or are you just not hiding your support for autocratic, unconstitutional indoctrination by government school teachers now?

    • 2022-09-24 at 12:36 pm
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      That is just so much typical Democrat sanctimonious hyperbole. No, it doesn’t mean The Diary of Ann Frank. It also doesn’t mean Tom Sawyer or To Kill A Mockingbird the left wanted banned for racism and using the N word. It means books that illustrate unnatural sex acts have no redeeming value in elementary school.

    • 2022-09-24 at 2:35 pm
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      You don’t have a right to be concerned with what parents want for their children, unless it violates criminal law.
      Full stop.

  • 2022-09-23 at 4:14 pm
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    Ah, George Orwell’s /1984/… the warning that the leftists use as an instruction manual.

  • 2022-09-23 at 4:57 pm
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    “pointed out a list of notable books that might be identified as containing sexually explicit content under the VDOE policy” Might, maybe, could be, just another scare tactic.

  • 2022-09-23 at 5:19 pm
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    ANYTHING other than math, science, reading and global/American history should be opt-IN not opt-OUT!

  • 2022-09-24 at 10:45 am
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    The pride flag should be removed because if we allow this then how many other flags do we need to allow. Let’s make one set of rules for all – two flags only USA and Commonwealth of Virginia. It’s time we have one set of rules and everyone abides by them. The schools should be for education, not developing sexual fantasies. Let’s focus on the two important areas – raising SOL scores and treating everyone equally. When you start favoring one group, others feel left out.

  • 2022-09-25 at 8:57 am
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    They festoon their cars and trucks with “Liberty” decals, and pictures of eagles and bold “FREEDOM” stickers and black and while American flags; ” crank about leftists destroying America’s freedom and then turn right around and proceed to tell you how you have to think, what you’re allowed to read, what your kids can read, and on and on. Would be funny if it wasn’t so annoying.

  • 2022-09-25 at 3:16 pm
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    Why does it take a mandate? Why haven’t those charged with protecting children been interested in removing sexually explicit materials in school libraries well before this? It isn’t as if parents haven’t been objecting for years. Years ago the School Board would shut down speakers who merely read verbatim from books in elementary school libraries.

    Even more importantly, who approved the introduction into elementary school libraries books that graphically depicted man on boy sex? And, why haven’t they been fired for dereliction of duty? Who’s protecting them?

  • 2022-09-25 at 8:56 pm
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    Let’s all prepare to watch the school board feign concern, pretend to evaluate highly objectionable, sexually explicit materials with no purpose other than to confuse and groom children.

    I predict that their will be a lot of committee activity that accomplished nothing as the board engages in theater to hide their complicity in placing pornography in school libraries.

  • 2022-09-26 at 8:48 am
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    This is becoming too much, from both sides. This needs to be about our kids and not anyone’s political views. We need to stop the nonsense and get back to EDUCATING our kids the basics. Why is this so difficult around books. Between PK-6 there should be no books containing any sexual topics. Above 6th grade, books that contain sexual topics should have a clear line towards a subject matter being taught in school. Books that are solely about sexuality should be banned from schools. They have no place there. Public libraries is another story which is a decision that the parents and their kids can decide on their own time and dime.

  • 2022-09-26 at 11:49 am
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    God created two genders; male and female.
    No author, no doctor, no teacher has any authority over parents and their beliefs systems on how their child should be raised and what they are exposed too. A doctor should never do any harm through medication or procedures that changes a child’s gender. They aren’t God. A teacher or author has no rights to expose our children to any thing in relation to their sexuality. This job is for their own family.
    Let’s see how the school board behaves. We serve God, we do not serve the serpent.
    Please help us bring an end to their exposure with media outlets by watching children programs with them. Some of these tv shows and games etc are appalling.

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