Governor McAuliffe Vetoes Legislation Interfering with Local School Board Policies
RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe today vetoed House Bill 516, which would require schools to identify materials as “sexually explicit” and notify parents if teachers plan to provide instructional material containing such content. The legislation would also require teachers to provide alternative instructional materials if requested by a parent.
The Governor’s full veto statement is below:
April 4, 2016
Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto House Bill 516, which would require schools to identify materials as “sexually explicit” and notify parents if teachers plan to provide instructional material containing such content. The legislation would also require teachers to provide alternative instructional materials if requested by a parent.
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.
We have long entrusted curriculum management to our local school boards. 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. School boards are also most knowledgeable about those materials that will best position our students to succeed in Advanced Placement and other college preparatory programs.
The Virginia Board of Education has been examining this issue recently and has been engaged in lengthy and substantive conversations with school boards, teachers, parents, and students about existing local policies and potential state policies to address these concerns.
Because the Board of Education is already considering this issue in a broader and more complete context, I believe House Bill 516 is unnecessary.
Accordingly, I veto this bill.
Terence R. McAuliffe