CBLDF signed on to yet another letter from the National Coalition Against Censorship regarding Virginia’s resilient ‘Beloved bill’ which was vetoed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe last year, defeated as a proposed State Board of Education regulation in January, and brought up again as legislation in the General Assembly last month. The bill would require school districts to warn parents about educational materials containing undefined “sexually explicit” content, likely resulting in a chilling effect on curricula.
Since the bill has again passed through both houses of the General Assembly, the most recent letter is addressed to Gov. McAuliffe, urging him to veto it once again. The six-page letter opens by praising the Governor’s veto statement from the last time around:
Your observations about last year’s bill apply equally to this one; it also “lacks flexibility and would require the label of ‘sexually explicit’ to apply to an artistic work based on a single scene, without further context.” As you acknowledged in your veto message last year, local school boards are “best positioned” to develop educational programs that expose students to “literary and artistic works that will expand students’ horizons and enrich their learning experiences.”
McAuliffe also noted last year that the State Board of Education was preparing to consider the issue “in a broader and more complete context.” The letter notes that it have now done so and decided that such regulation of curriculum is not within its purview; in fact, Virginia’s constitution specifically says that the day-to-day management of schools is vested in local school boards. There is even legal precedent to back up that clause, from the 1978 case School Board v. Parham.
Despite some Virginia legislators’ persistent belief that they should be intimately involved in regulating curriculum for schools across the state, we hope that Gov. McAuliffe will once again agree that this legislation represents a drastic overreach of their authority. Read the full letter below.
Contributing Editor Maren Williams is a reference librarian who enjoys free speech and rescue dogs.