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  • Bridgette Heap

Obscenity in Schools



It is hard to believe that in many schools across the nation, children have access to inappropriate books—books that give instruction on how to perform LGBTQ+ sex acts and teach children how to use sex apps to hook up with others in their area for sex (This Book is Gay). Some graphic novels show pornographic images of oral sex (Gender Queer and Fun Home). These books manage to make their way into schools under the guise of diversity.[1] Activists assert that since not everyone is heterosexual, children should be learning about a variety of sexual practices. But truly children should not be exposed to this graphic content at all.

According to the Back to School for Parents guide from Family Policy Alliance and Focus on the Family, “Every state, and the federal government, has an obscenity law that defines obscenity and prohibits exposing minors to obscene materials.” These organizations further explain that “It is a crime for children to be exposed to obscene, lewd, and profane material.” It should seem obvious that these books conflict with obscenity laws. However, there is an exception written into many of these laws. “If the material that is being questioned can be viewed to have scientific, educational, governmental value, or other justification, it is no longer illegal. This enormous loophole is called the ‘obscenity exemption.’ Most school libraries can claim an ‘obscenity exemption’ to material that is appalling to parents by arguing the content has ‘educational’ or ‘scientific’ value.”[2] Once in the schools, these books remain available to children through this obscenity exemption loophole, making it difficult for parents to have books removed from classrooms and libraries.

However, you can still protect your children. First, find out which books are available in your child’s library. You can use this website to learn about titles you may want to search for and why they are concerning. Next, request to see your children’s library record so you can be aware of what they are checking out. (Check out the Back to School for Parents guide, page 117, for a sample letter requesting to view library records.) Then, share with others what you have found. Go to your local school board and show other parents and community members which books children are accessing and explain why this concerns you. Finally, talk to your children. Sooner or later our children are exposed to obscene images and content. Prepare your children ahead of time and encourage them to talk to you about what they have seen, why those images/ideas are harmful, and what they can do to protect themselves and to make healthy choices. Parents, we have the right and responsibility to protect our children from harmful materials. Sadly, our attention must now be on school libraries as one of the many places our kids may be exposed to lewd material.

[1] https://www.teenvogue.com/story/heteronormativity-gender-identity-sexual-orientation [2] Back to School for Parents, by Family Policy Alliance and Focus on the Family, p. 86, https://familypolicyalliance.com/back-to-school-for-parents/.

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