Texas lawmakers have approved a measure to protect kids from teachers and librarians who expose children to “harmful” material.
It’s already a crime to sell, distribute, or display “patently offensive” sexually explicit materials to minors.
House Bill 4520 by State Rep. Cody Harris (R–Palestine) adds consequences that keep offending educators out of schools.
“Parents across the state have reported finding pornographic materials in school libraries and classrooms,” Harris said in the bill’s statement of intent. “Any educational personnel found to have provided harmful material to a minor should have their educator license revoked, lose their pension, and be placed on the Do Not Hire Registry.”
State law defines “harmful material” as material whose dominant theme taken as a whole:
- appeals to the prurient interest of a minor, in sex, nudity, or excretion; and
- is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community as a whole with respect to what is suitable for minors; and
- is utterly without redeeming social value for minors.
HB 4520 adds exposing minors to harmful material to the list of crimes that require the state to revoke an educator’s teaching certificate.
Educators convicted of, or receiving deferred adjudication for, the crime will also be disqualified from receiving Teacher Retirement System benefits.
Convicted education employees will also be added to the state’s Do Not Hire Registry, making them ineligible to work in Texas public schools.
FReadom Fighters, a Texas-based group of activist librarians recognized by the American Library Association for promoting kids’ “right” to read whatever they want with no age limits, opposed HB 4520, claiming it would “criminalize librarians.”
The House passed HB 4520 earlier this month with a near-unanimous bipartisan vote. The Senate passed the measure on Monday.
HB 4520 now goes to Gov. Greg Abbott. He can sign or veto the bill; otherwise, it becomes law effective September 1.
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