Kansas Republicans Seek to Criminalize Teaching About Sex and ‘Harmful’ Books
The Kansas State Senate voiced approval for a bill on Tuesday that would allow the state to more easily prosecute teachers and school officials who teach materials considered “harmful.”
The Republican-dominated legislature approved the bill after a Kansas City-area middle school teacher put up an educational poster showing specific sexual acts.
The poster was removed after complaints from parents but Republican senators introduced a bill to remove protections that schools have again prosecution.
“There was some resistance,” said parent Mark Ellis, who complained after his 13-year-old daughter saw the teacher’s poster. “I had to kick it up a notch to get the poster removed.”
State Senator Mary Pilcher-Cook of Shawnee told The Wichita Eagle that the bill will protect “children and the rights of parents” and dismissed concerns that the law could potentially be used to charge teachers who assign a book like “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” for example.
The bill will allow misdemeanor charges to be brought against teachers who display material that shows “nudity, sexual conduct, sexual enticement, or sadomasochistic abuse” that the “average adult person” would find “lacks serious literary, scientific, educational, artistic or political value.”
Mark Desetti of the state’s largest teachers union slammed the measure, saying, “We’re going to self-censor to the point where nothing controversial is ever put before kids. How do we get kids to think critically and challenge ideas? Everybody talks about let’s think outside the box. No, let’s not. Let’s cram everybody into this little box and scare them into not doing anything that people might find an objection to.”