Virginia Governor Approves FGM Education in Schools

On January 15th of this year, the Global Woman Newsletter reported that Virginia Senator, Richard H. Black of the 13th District of Virginia had put forth a special education Senate Bill to his colleagues in the Virginia Senate.  Senate Bill 1159 was voted on and passed unanimously by the Virginia Senate Committee in late January.  It then moved over to the House, where it survived and was successfully passed by the Virginia General Assembly later in February.

After the wait and anticipation for close to two months, Virginia Governor, Ralph Northam approved the Bill last Monday, March 18th, which is expected to become law on July 1, 2019.  The Education Bill summarizes that any family life education curriculum offered in any middle school, or high school to incorporate age-appropriate elements of effective and evidence-based programs on the harmful physical and emotional effects of female genital mutilation (FGM), associated criminal penalties, and the rights of the victim including any civil action.  Elementary students will not be required to study FGM in the Commonwealth of Virginia until they reach Middle School age.  Affected directly by this new law will be the Virginia Board of Education, Virginia Local School Divisions, and the Virginia Department of Education.

Yesterday, Global Woman Newsletter contacted Senator Black on his reaction of the approval from the Governor.  This is the statement the Senator issued yesterday afternoon:  “With the passage of SB 1159, Virginia has become the leading state in suppressing the ghoulish practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). With the help of Angela Peabody and the Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation, we have made FGM punishable by terms up to life imprisonment; have given victims the right to sue the perpetrators of these crimes; and have begun to educate the public about the crime and its remedy. I am grateful to Angela, the Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation, and those courageous women who are struggling to end this barbaric practice. I am grateful to the Virginia General Assembly for supporting my three bills that accomplished this over the past three sessions.”

Senator Richard H. Black on Senate Floor

Richard H. Black has served the Commonwealth of Virginia since 1998 when he was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates until 2006.  Senator Black announced early in the year that he will not seek reelection when his Senate term is over at the end of this year.  Not only will his constituents in the 13th District miss him, Senator Black will be missed by those in the FGM community whose lives he has touched since his first FGM Senate Bill in 2017.  The Senator expresses gratitude in his statement to those involved in the campaign against FGM.  However Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation joins all the other U.S. NGOs, FGM survivors and the girls at risk of FGM, in expressing profound appreciation and thanks for his relentless efforts in working to get legislation in Virginia passed in three consecutive years.  Now Virginia becomes the first state in the U.S. to have an education FGM law in its Middle and Secondary Schools.

Here is what the Code of Virginia reads:

A. Any family life education curriculum offered by a local school division shall require the Standards of Learning objectives related to dating violence and the characteristics of abusive relationships to be taught at least once in middle school and at least twice in high school, as described in the Board of Education’s family life education guidelines.

B. Any high school family life education curriculum offered by a local school division shall incorporate age-appropriate elements of effective and evidence-based programs on the prevention of dating violence, domestic abuse, sexual harassment, including sexual harassment using electronic means, and sexual violence and may incorporate age-appropriate elements of effective and evidence-based programs on the law and meaning of consent. Such age-appropriate elements of effective and evidence-based programs on the prevention of sexual violence may include instruction that increases student awareness of the fact that consent is required before sexual activity.

C. Any family life education curriculum offered in any elementary school, middle school, or high school shall incorporate age-appropriate elements of effective and evidence-based programs on the importance of the personal privacy and personal boundaries of other individuals and tools for a student to use to ensure that he respects the personal privacy and personal boundaries of other individuals.

D. Any family life education curriculum offered by a local school division shall incorporate age-appropriate elements of effective and evidence-based programs on the harmful physical and emotional effects of female genital mutilation; associated criminal penalties; and the rights of the victim, including any civil action pursuant to §8.01-42.5 (https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/8.01-42.5).

E.Any family life education curriculum offered by a local school division may incorporate age-appropriate elements of effective and evidence-based programs on the prevention, recognition, and awareness of child abduction, child abuse, child sexual exploitation, and child sexual abuse.

Comments and questions to info@globalwomanpeacefoundation.org or call (703) 832-2642

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