Madison County School Board discusses ban of Critical Race Theory, gender and sexuality discussions

Published: May. 10, 2022 at 12:10 AM EDT
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MADISON, Va. (WVIR) - A national topic found its way to a Central Virginia school board meeting, and it revolves around a message heard often throughout Virginia politics.

Dozens of Madison County parents showed up at a school board meeting on Monday night to discuss a proposed ban of Critical Race Theory and banning conversations about sexuality in the classroom before high school.

“My whole purpose here is to safeguard parental rights,” said Christopher Wingate, the school board member who proposed the policy change.

Using one of Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s most-spoken phrases, Wingate explained why he’s introducing a draft of a “Controversial Issues Policy” adaptation. It’s a policy that would ban Critical Race Theory and any “instruction or discussion with students regarding sexual orientation or gender choices, contraception, and abortion prior to 9th grade.” And, in high school, those topics would only be discussed in family life courses.

“In these areas, especially in the areas of sexuality and gender, it’s the parents’ right and responsibility to discuss with their child, not the schools’,” Wingate said.

Dozens of Madison County parents spoke out on both sides of the contentious debate.

“School is not a place to talk about or to think about who you want to sleep with or all these other things that really have no place in school,” said Susan Keaton.

“Who are these ‘determined indoctrinators’ and what are they even doing?” asked Cindy Taylor. “Is this all about one banner that said ‘love is love’?”

One mother, who told the school board she is married to a woman, said: “In spite of what you do tonight, there are amazing teachers out here in this crowd that will continue to protect these kids.”

Another man, who supported the policy changes, reflected on his time in school.

“I don’t ever remember a teacher, even in high school in the ‘60s, talking about their political philosophy,” said Joe May.

There was some discussion among board members about things including how to select textbooks. But most of the talking was done by Wingate.

“It encourages the full study of the good and the bad in our history,” he said. “It does limit the idea of a theory that describes our country today as a fundamentally racist country. I believe that’s wrong because it’s untrue, and because it makes it harder to promote love of country and respect for citizenship.”

The discussion did not culminate in a vote on the controversial issues policy. School Board Chair Karen Allen made sure to note this is just the beginning of their dialogue.

However, one decision was made: Superintendent Anna Graham did say she will send out a survey to Madison County parents to see what they have to say.

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