INDIANAPOLIS – A bill passed in the Indiana Senate Tuesday would allow school employees to be criminally prosecuted for providing materials considered “harmful” to minors.
Under state law, that would include books or other items that contain sexually explicit content that lack literary, artistic, political or scientific value.
Senate Bill 12 also requires schools to set up a process that would allow parents to request the removal of books they believe are “inappropriate to students.”
The proposal has divided parents as some argue the legislation is vague and could lead schools to remove books for reasons other than pornographic material.
“They need to put children above everything else and protect their minds,” said Rhonda Miller, president of Purple for Parents Indiana, an organization that has advocated for the legislation. “We always talk about it’s all for the kids. Let’s put them first and let’s keep this material away from them.”
“There have been times for my various children at various parts of their lives when I have very pointedly not wanted them to read certain books,” said Rachel Burke, president of the Indiana PTA, which opposes the bill. “However as a parent, I don’t have that right to make that decision for someone else’s children.”
The bill, authored by State Sen. Jim Tomes (R-Wadesville), has been discussed at the Statehouse for the past few years.
The bill passed 37-12, with most Republicans voting in favor of it. Three Republicans joined all the Democrats in opposing the measure.
The bill now heads to the House for consideration.