VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — School books once again became the center of attention at the Virginia Beach School Board meeting Tuesday night.
Name-calling and frustrations sparked a debate as some parents demanded banning certain schoolbooks, concerned about what they call sexually explicit material.
"It's actually being taught in school...and it's being sanctioned by 'porn peddlers,'" said one parent, referring to Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence.
"I don't care how many librarians you have to come up here and tell you how great these books are," another parent exclaimed at the podium during public comment. "I've seen these books with my own eyes and they're not so great. They have pornographic materials in them and that's a fact."
Meanwhile, other parents pushed back, saying the students need to broaden their horizons with a variety of materials.
"By narrowing our curriculum, it's impacting not only how young people see themselves, but it also impacting how they have empathy toward others who don't look like them, act like them, or have feelings for someone like them," another parent said.
Many of the parents are pushing for a new regulation to allow parents and guardians to review and approve classroom material before they are distributed to the students.
Kathleen Slinde, the president of the Virginia Beach Education Association, said parents need to take responsibility for paying attention to what their children read, instead of relying on school leaders.
"That's what we do. We talk to our kids. We talk about the books they're reading, we make suggestions," said Sinde. "If they're reading something too challenging for them or not appropriate in our household, then that's parenting."
Slinde said she understands the concerns from parents but said there is enough access for parents to see which books their children get from the library or classroom through school software.
"Parents can go on Destiny and see what their children are checking out. Parents can go on Destiny and choose what their children check out and that's what we want parents to be involved with," Slinde explained. "Students have the right as students to request the ability to read something different."
Earlier this month, the school board members updated its regulation, allowing parents to challenge books found in the school libraries if they deem the material inappropriate for their child.