According to a report from the Courthouse News Service, a GOP-proposed law in Kansas could jail teachers for introducing “harmful material” to students, which includes “depictions of nudity, sexual conduct, homosexuality, sexual excitement or sadomasochistic abuse ‘in a manner that is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the community with respect to what is suitable for minors.’”
From Courthouse News:
Teachers could be charged with a class B misdemeanor and face up to six months in jail if teaching materials contain depictions that a “reasonable person” would find to lack “serious literary, scientific, educational, artistic or political value for minors.”
[Rep Mary Pilcher-Cook] said she sponsored S.B. 56 in response to parental outrage over a poster affixed to a Shawnee Mission middle school door last year that asked the question: “How do people express their sexual feelings?” and listed answers such as “hugging, kissing, saying ‘I like you’ and talking” along with other possibilities: “oral sex, anal sex, masturbation, vaginal intercourse, grinding, and touching each other’s genitals.”
“Pornography and obscene materials are becoming more and more prevalent in our society, and it is all too common to hear of cases where children are not being protected from the harm it inflicts,” Pilcher-Cook said.
Not surprisingly, opponents of the bill are worried about its potential far-reaching consequences.
“Senate Bill 56 could criminalize teachers simply for distributing handouts, displaying posters or sharing educational information,” Micah Kubic, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Kansas, told the Kansas City Star.
“If a teacher is afraid that they’re going to be charged and convicted of a misdemeanor just for doing their job, they’re going to be a lot less likely to share any information that someone somewhere might object to,” Kubic added.
The bill would require community colleges, municipal universities and technical colleges to have a policy that prohibits an employee from “providing or using such employee’s official title when authoring or contributing to a newspaper opinion column.”
“It’s silly is what it is,” said Dr. Chapman Rackaway, professor of political science at Fort Hays State University.