One Small Victory for Sanity? Maybe Not

by James A. Bacon

Finally, an issue that transcends the partisan and ideological divide. Both the state Senate and House of Delegates have unanimously passed a bill to allow public and elementary school teachers to… drum roll… carry their own sunscreen. Wait, there’s more. Teachers also will be allowed to apply their own sunscreen!

The General Assembly may be as divided as ever on taxes, energy policy, guns, minimum wage and public-sector unions, but lawmakers concur that it’s good public policy to permit teachers to use sunscreen.

The use of sunscreen became an issue after a Virginia school district banned it in response to a student having an allergic reaction to the lotion. A bill similar to SB 44 was introduced in the 2018 session of the General Assembly but, according to The Virginia Mercury, met its demise in a Senate subcommittee. However, the national mood toward sunscreen in schools appears to have changed. Assuming the bill is signed into law by Governor Ralph Northam, the Old Dominion will have joined ten other states that have adopted similar measures.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that all Americans use an SPF of 14 or higher to reduce the risk of skin cancer.

“It’s shocking that we have to have a state statute telling people they can use sunscreen at schools,” said Sen. Mark Peake, R-Lynchburg. “To me, it’s just a sign that we have gotten completely overregulated.”

“To put barriers in front of that seems just ridiculous.” said Sen. Janet Howell, D-Fairfax, said during the committee hearing. “It seems to me that we should pass this.”

Undoubtedly, SB 44 represents an improvement for teachers working in the unidentified school district that banned sunscreen outright. But it’s not clear that teachers in other school districts — the ones whose school boards never got around the regulating the lotions — are better off. 

While prohibiting outright bans, SB 44 still regulates the use of sunscreen. Permission is extended only to topical sunscreen “in its original packaging.” Presumably, that rules out use of a tube left over from a vacation in the Outer Banks. Also, the sunscreen must be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It turns out that U.S. consumers don’t have access to eight advanced European sun-filtering molecules because the FDA is not convinced they are safe for users.

Thanks for small favors. Verrry small favors.

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8 responses to “One Small Victory for Sanity? Maybe Not

  1. Oh this is not over: ” Study shows that active ingredients in sunscreen may be absorbed into the bloodstream, FDA says
    The study evaluated the absorption of four commercially available sunscreens.”

    You put sunscreen on someone’s kids who are concerned about it being absorbed and causing harm – perhaps autism – and all heck will break loose!

    never underestimate the potential of anything to cause an uproar in public schools.

    this is yet another one of those areas where the “market” will produce something – and whether or not it is potentially harmful or not and/or it should not be sold and/or applied by folks on others, like kids without informed consent – is a yet another govt/regulation conundrum.

    And kids, tend to be more susceptible to some substances than adults – i.e. all kinds of warnings on some products to NOT give to kids.

    People might laugh – but there are a LOT of substances that initially were “applied” that later were found to be harmful – even deadly.

    we take all this stuff for granted at “quick glance” but upon more focus – it gets to be not so easy to dismiss.

  2. “To me, it’s just a sign that we have gotten completely overregulated.”

    Overregulated? Maybe, but I ask again …What the heck is the General Assembly doing mucking about in the specifics of operations in any particular school district? Why don’t they just equalize the finances and require the State BofEd to make sure every school is actually educating their kids?

    VA GA already has too much to do in their 90 days every 2 years. All those bills just keep the legislators and the public confused.

  3. Oh, boy Jim, you did it this time with that pic you put on this post, exposing that young girl child’s fanny. That’s somebody’s daughter and its sexual abuse for sure. And she ain’t in a Virginia public school bus, Virginia public school yard or Virginia public School classroom or hallway, so your toast, Jim, as this obviously has got to be your dog at Virginia beach, too. We got a blackface moment going here for BR.


    Tanning beds? Nanny Virginia still thinks she knows best…this one just cleared committee.

    • This one is a little different. Tanning beds can be dangerous and kids should not be allowed to use them. Probably forbidding 16 or 17 year old kids is a bit much, but, because 18 is considered adult, that is a standard measure.

  5. When I heard about this bill, I laughed and was outraged at the same time. I laughed because it is another example of local school administrators choosing to ban something outright, rather than using common sense and considering things on a case by case basis. So, some kid has a reaction to sunscreen. OK, rather than telling that kid he/she should avoid it at school, just like he/she would do it at his/her pool or at the beach and warning other kids not to purposely expose that student to sunscreen, the administrators ban it outright for everybody. That is the route many schools take. I laughed at the stupidity of it all and was outraged that there has to be a law allowing student to take sunscreen to school.

  6. Anyone here who has a child or a relative that has a child or teachers as friends – needs to ask them about this.

    I think you might be surprised. Even something simple like a snack can balloon into a mess if there were peanut products in it.

    Some parents are highly suspicious of food, OTC drugs and other products as substances that can adversely affect their kids. The anti-vaccination folks get the news but there’s many others who also have concerns.

    This is what schools have to contend with these days.

    It’s not enough that the school has it’s own policy. That policy becomes the target of some who will say the policy is arbitrary and has no scientific foundation, etc or that science is undecided, etc.

    So the schools want “protection” by saying it’s a “State Law”.

    If you know some public education folks, talk to them.

    Perhaps JohnRandolfof Roanoke has an opinion.

  7. I will sleep better tonight knowing that the esteemed members of the General Assembly of our beloved Commonwealth have taken time from their busy schedules to address this issue that is of such monumental importance to us all…

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