Democratic Virginia Gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe said parents should not have authority over what schools teach their children during a debate Tuesday evening.
McAuliffe was challenged on his change in stance, as he previously advocated for protection for transgender students and now supports allowing local school districts to make independent decisions about controversial issues. His opponent, Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin, argued during the debate that local school districts should include parents in decisions regarding the educational content taught to their children.
“In regard to our kids in schools, we are called for everyone to love everyone,” Youngkin said. “And I agree with your conclusion, Terry [McAuliffe], that we should let local school districts actually make these decisions. But we must ask them to include concepts of safety and privacy and respect in the discussion and we must ask that they include parents in the dialogue.”
“I’m not gonna let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decisions,” McAuliffe replied. “I stopped the bill that I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” He explained that he supports parents having the right to veto books rather than make decisions for the schools on which books are placed in school libraries.
McAuliffe vetoed a bill, known as the “Beloved” bill in 2016 that would have allowed parents to block their childrens’ exposure to sexually explicit books in schools, the Washington Post previously reported. The legislation would have required teachers to inform parents of any “sexually explicit material” being presented in the classroom and give them the option to have their child opt out of the lesson. (RELATED: As Virginia Governor Race Draws To A Close, McAuliffe Will Not Name One Abortion Restriction He Supports)
Youngkin criticized McAuliffe’s veto of the bill during his time as governor, arguing that “parents should be in charge of their kid’s education.” The Republican candidate mentioned parents’ uproar this past week over Fairfax County High School allegedly presenting “sexually explicit” material in the library without parental consent.
The school system removed the books “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe and “Lawn Boy” by Jonathon Evison from the high school library Friday, according to WTOP News. Kobabe’s book reportedly contains illustrations of oral sex and masturbation and Evision’s allegedly shows graphic descriptions of a man having sex with children.
The school board held a meeting Thursday evening during which parents challenged school administrators regarding their children’s accessibility to the books, according to the outlet.