Virginia lawmakers are working on a bill that would require teachers to warn parents about reading assignments with “sexually explicit” content.
Parents could then decide to veto those books for their children and request an alternate assignment, reported the Washington Post.
The rules would require school districts to identify and list possibly objectionable material and set up a process for parents to opt out, although a similar bill was vetoed last year by Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
Teachers would be required to provide replacement texts for parents who don’t want their children to read materials that could be considered sexually explicit, although critics say the wording is too vague and could be used to ban books such as Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five and The Diary of Anne Frank.
“This is not good policy, and it’s treading on dangerous legal ground,” said Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, of the Virginia ACLU. “We’ll be evaluating what happens at every step of the way.”
Accomack County Public Schools briefly removed Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from bookshelves last fall after a parent complained about racial slurs.
Officials in Chesterfield County also considered removing items from a summer reading list, including Eleanor and Park and Dope Sick, after parents denounced the books as “pornographic” and “trash.”
Parent Laura Murphy, who sought a ban on Toni Morrison’s Beloved, said teachers should be required to explain “why (individual books are) worthwhile and why it’s a good read and a valuable component of the child’s education.”