Terry McAuliffe Says Parents Can Shut It About Sexually Explicit Content in Schools: ‘I Don’t Think Parents Should be Telling Schools What They Should Teach’


Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe (D) on Tuesday defended sexually explicit material in the state’s schools, saying he didn’t believe parents should determine standards.

McAuliffe, who previously served as Virginia’s governor from 2014-18, made the remark during a debate with opponent Glenn Youngkin (R). Recalling that he vetoed legislation during his term that would have alerted parents to sexually explicit content in schools and provided them with options for objecting to it, McAuliffe said, “I’m not going to let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decision. So, yeah, I stopped the bill — I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”

McAuliffe was misrepresenting the bill in reply to Youngkin, who said schools in the state had been “refusing to engage with parents.” He also cited a controversy in northern Virginia’s Fairfax County, where two books — Lawn Boy and Gender Queer — were removed from school shelves this week after parental complaints that they featured “homoerotic content.” The American Library Association endorsed the books for holding “special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18.”

“We watched parents so upset because there was such sexually explicit material in the library they had never seen, it was shocking,” Youngkin said. “And in fact, you vetoed the bill that would have informed parents that they were there. You believe school systems should tell children what to do. I believe parents should be in charge of their kids’ education.”

A polling average compiled by RealClearPolitics prior to the debate showed McAuliffe narrowly favored to win the Nov. 2 election, with a 3.5 percentage point lead over Youngkin. Nearly 10 percent of voters indicated they held no opinion.

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