The Virginia legislature has voted to approve a bill that would allow parents to block certain material in public schools. The bill would require schools to notify parents that an assigned book contained potentially objectionable sexual content.
The State Board of Education would be expected to write guidelines to determine what is considered explicit content, and parents would be able to request an alternative assignment from teachers.
According to The Washington Post, a Fairfax County woman provided the impetus for the bill. Laura Murphy objected when her son, a high school senior, was assigned Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Beloved for an English class. The book, which portrays the brutality of slavery, contains scenes of sexual violence.
Murphy told The Post the book is “inappropriate for young readers.” Several legislators agreed.
State Sen. Bill Carrico (R-Grayson) defended the bill, saying, “Evil is just – when you plant the seed, it’s a kitten. You feed it, it becomes a lion and it eats you.” (Carrico acknowledged he has not read the book.)
Anti-censorship groups have asked Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) to veto the measure.