Bill banning sexually explicit materials in Arizona public schools goes into effect
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Starting this week, a few more books in Arizona will be banned in public schools. House Bill 2495 went into effect over the weekend, banning public schools from using any materials that depict sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sexual acts.
Any material with serious educational, literary, artistic, political, or scientific value can still be displayed at public schools. But even then, parental consent is required. “There’s just no reason why policy makers should be passing these types of laws,” Arizona Education Association President Marisol Garcia said.
When Garcia first heard about House Bill 2495, she immediately thought of the impact banning sexually explicit materials could have on teachers. “It is so mysterious and so vague this law, that they’re unsure,” Garcia said. “So what that does is it makes teachers say ‘I’m not sure I can teach.’ They just felt like at this point they would be trusted. And it’s unfortunate that’s not what’s happening.”
Under the bill sponsored by GOP Rep. Jake Hoffman and signed by Gov. Ducey back in July, any explicit material that isn’t banned can be consumed with parental consent. But if parents disapprove, teachers must provide a different assignment for that child. “There is nothing more sacred than the innocence of a child,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman never responded to a request to speak with us on Monday about how this bill will specifically be enforced. But when he introduced the bill to the House Education Committee in January, he referenced a National Institute of Health study that sexually explicit material during early adolescence was associated with risky sexual behavior and intimacy disorders.
“This bill is about protecting Arizona children,” he said. “And ensuring that the same types of materials that are currently prohibited under our criminal code are kept out of our classrooms.”
But Garcia feels restricted access to these materials will end up harming kids in the long run. “When you have a teacher who is unable to share with you amazing historical stories or amazing pieces of literature, you kind of feel shielded,” she said. “I just hope teachers continue to help them experience these new opportunities via these novels.”
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