RICHMOND, Va. – Spotsylvania County School Board voted 4-3 this week to enact a policy empowering members and the superintendent to ban books they deem “sexually explicit.” In response to the votes, ACLU of Virginia Policy Director Ashna Khanna released the following statement:
“Spotsylvania’s school board is basing their heavy-handed policies on a misinterpretation of Virginia code. No school board – and especially not a single superintendent – should be able to ban books on the basis of whether they personally find them to be ‘sexually explicit.’
“We know purging so-called ‘sexually explicit’ books will disproportionately target books about the experiences of LGBTQ+ people and people of color. Students have a right to see themselves reflected in their libraries; they also have a right to learn from the perspectives of people who aren’t like them. After all, it would be both discriminatory and defy common sense to pretend Virginia students aren’t living in a world with Black, brown, and LGBTQ+ teachers and family members.
“Unfortunately, the way Virginia code is written is so open-ended as to allow this kind of dangerous mission creep. Until this poorly written code is repealed, other overzealous school boards may try to ban books that simply make them uncomfortable.”