Leave it to the professionals. They know best.
That was the spin from liberal members of the Senate Education and Health committee today when presented with Delegate Steve Landes’s bill that simply will give parents of public school students an opportunity to review and opt their child out of materials they find sexually inappropriate.
The bill came as a result of a parent in Fairfax who was concerned that her child was being asked to read a book that had material so sexually explicit that when she tried to email the specific excerpts from the book to the Board of Education and local school board, their internet filter’s blocked it! The bill flew out of the House of Delegates.
Committee members who opposed the bill had a visceral reaction to the idea that parents might know better than the public school system. Senator Mamie Locke summed the opposition up by essentially stating that “professional educators” know better than parents and should make these decisions. Calling the material in question “literature,” they argued that the bill would “censor” and was a “slippery slope” to censoring just about everything. A plain reading of the bill shows it simply requires the Board of Education to come up with a method by which parents can be notified and choose it that book selection best suits their children.
The most interesting line of argument came from Senator Dick Saslaw who said, “If you think you can prevent your child from doing something…,” followed by Senator Janet Howell who created the absurd scenario that if your child is unable to read this type of material, they’ll simply go on the Internet and explore the world of pornography. Sen. Howell’s logic begged the question as to whether the school was selecting it as literature or as a way to expose children to sexual concepts.
The message was clear – parents have no right to have a say in the classroom, nor shouldn’t they even have the freedom to guide their child’s actions.
The bill passed the committee 9-6, with Democrat Lynwood Lewis joining all eight Republicans in support.