Carroll County Board of Education votes to ban sexually explicit books at CCPS

Heather Curtis – WMAL News | January 11, 2024

Add Carroll County Public Schools to the list of districts in Northern Virginia limiting access to books deemed inappropriate because of sexually explicit content.

The Carroll County Board of Education voted unanimously on Wednesday to revise a policy on the selection of instructional materials to say they they won’t contain sexually explicit content, which is defined as “Unambiguously describing, depicting, showing, or writing about sex or sex acts in a detailed or graphic manner.” The only exceptions to the policy would be books related to family life and human development and ones approved by the superintendent.

“This policy does not ban books. Instead, it provides responsible standards that our superintendent should consider if needed to restrict access to inappropriate content,” said board member Stephen Whisler who spearheaded the change.

Unlike other public school systems in Northern Virginia – including Spotsylvania, Fairfax and Loudoun counties – that have banned specific books with LGBTQ+ content, Whisler said the policy does not target specific genres, topics, authors or themes.

Before the vote, the non-voting student board member Sahithya Sudhakar said she and other students understand the intention of the changes but are concerned about the language in the policy.

“There is no true way to completely standardize the way that we conclude what ambiguous and unambiguous means, and one person’s version of graphic is not the same as another, making the way this policy, the way it’s currently written ineffective in its intention,” Sudhakar said.

Whisler said there’s no academic value in providing students with explicit sexual content. He argued having access to those books would not raise SAT scores, or help students find jobs after high school.

Sudhakar said some important books – including classic literature – include content that may be considered sexually explicit to some but ambiguous to others.

“With this policy, what I’m worried is that we’re gonna lose some very important content in our schools because a single line is taken out of context,” Sudhakar told the board.

Board member Dr. Patricia Dorsey echoed those concerns saying it’s important to put potentially explicit parts of books in context. She thought it would be wise to clarify the language in the policy but voted to approve what was written.

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