Glenn Youngkin, the Republican who won the race for governor in Virginia, centered his campaign on education, specifically on his insistence that parents should have the right to determine what their children learn and on his promise to ban “critical race theory” in the state’s public schools.

The second part of the promise should be easy, because Virginia public schools do not teach “critical race theory.”

Youngkin ran a commercial on his behalf that showed a mother complaining that her son was compelled to read Toni Morrison’s Beloved, which upset him.

What the mother did not say was that her son was a senior in an AP English class where he should have been expected to read the work of a Nobel-Prize winning author.

What the mother did not say was that her son’s discomforting experience occurred a decade ago.

What the mother did not say was that her son went on to have a successful career in the federal government.

A recent article by an African American columnist at the Washington Post contrasts this young man’s experience of Beloved with her own. She too was deeply disturbed by the book.

“Having read it, I can confirm that “Beloved” is an intense, at times frightening book.

“Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel has sex, violence, mention of bestiality. It centers on the story of a mother who kills her own child, desperate to ensure the infant won’t have to experience the horrors of slavery as she did. It’s visceral, and haunting, and deeply sad.

“But then again, imagine how enslaved people must have felt to live it.

“This exercise in empathy is, presumably, what is meant to be taught in an Advanced Placement English Literature course for 17- and 18-year-olds — which is where it was situated in the Virginia curriculum when Laura Murphy, the Fairfax County mother prominently featured in a viral campaign ad for Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin, began to complain about it.

“In the ad, Murphy describes being horrified by the “explicit material” after looking at her child’s reading assignment. And indeed, in 2013, her son — who was by then a 19-year-old college freshman — told The Post that the book was “gross” and hard for him to handle. “I gave up on it,” he said.

“His mother tried to have the novel banned from county schools. Having escaped the hardship of thinking about slavery, the younger Murphy went on to clerk in the Office of the White House Counsel during the Trump administration and is now a lawyer for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

“I was also asked to read “Beloved” in a high school English class, also in Virginia — Richmond, to be precise. It was a hard read. You felt bad. It was also an illuminating corrective, studied against the Virginia backdrop of Robert E. Lee worship, Stonewall Jackson fetishization, and the plantations where enslaved people, we heard in our history classes, worked mostly happily for noble, caring masters.

“The novel taught me the power of literature, how words could transmit deep emotion. It did keep me up at night, because I was grappling with the pain of another person, wondering how someone could get to such a place, how people could do these things to one another. The gory details of the book fled my mind in the ensuing years. But the feeling — I never forgot it.”

Isn’t that what great literature is supposed to do?

So, now we know that Mrs. Murphy’s son couldn’t bear to read Beloved, but it didn’t cause him any harm. Other students, however, learned from it, experienced it, and treasured their experience.