RICHMOND — Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Monday vetoed a bill that would have made Virginia the first state to allow parents to block their children from reading books in school that contain sexually explicit material.
The measure became known in the General Assembly as the “Beloved” bill because supporters have cited that seminal work of fiction by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison as an example of a book too graphic for some students.
The legislation would have required K-12 teachers to identify classroom materials with “sexually explicit content” and notify parents, who would have been able to “opt out” their children and request that the teacher give them an alternative assignment.
McAuliffe (D) said a state law is “unnecessary” because the Virginia Board of Education is considering changing state policy to accommodate parents’ concerns.
“School boards are best positioned to ensure that our students are exposed to those appropriate literary and artistic works that will expand students’ horizons and enrich their learning experiences,” he said in the veto message.
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The National Council of Teachers of English and the National Coalition Against Censorship opposed the bill; the conservative Family Foundation of Virginia favored it.About half of Virginia school districts require teachers to give parents warning of “potentially sensitive or controversial materials in the classroom,” according to a 2013 survey by the state Department of Education.
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