A few weeks ago I shared my thoughts on Virginia HB 516, which would require schools to label works as sexually explicit and inform parents if a title is on a child’s required reading list. In my discussion of the bill, I mentioned the slippery slope labeling entails, citing the opposition of the Virginia Library Association, although the Virginia Association of Teachers of English later issued a similar statement. With exactly a week to go before Governor McAuliffe would have been forced to make a decision on whether to veto or sign the bill into law, the Governor has vetoed the bill.
The official statement mentions the concerns of educators, librarians, parents, and other proponents of intellectual freedom as the main reason he made this decision:
“Open communication between parents and teachers is important, and school systems have an obligation to provide age-appropriate material for students. However, this legislation lacks flexibility and would require the label of “sexually explicit” to apply to an artistic work based on a single scene, without further context. Numerous educators, librarians, students, and others involved in the teaching process have expressed their concerns about the real-life consequences of this legislation’s requirements.”
So if anyone sent a note of concern to the governor: Thanks! You are awesome.
The Governor goes on to say exactly what we’ve all said: There are already avenues in place for parents to retain control over their child’s reading habits. The Governor’s statement adds this:
Because the Board of Education is already considering this issue in a broader and more complete context, I believe House Bill 516 is unnecessary.
Bravo, Governor McAuliffe!