By Corinne Murdock |
Last week, the Senate Education Committee passed HB2495, legislation to outlaw sexually explicit materials from K-12 schools.
State Representative Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek), the sponsor, noted that the legislation’s language incorporated some of the criminal code established in the 1960s banning obscenities from being exposed willfully to children. Hoffman argued that legislators in the 1960s couldn’t have imagined the materials given to minors as young as 9 years old in today’s age, referencing lewd cartoons, books depicting teenagers engaged in sexual acts, class skits requiring students to play out intimate or sexual relationships, surveys on sexual desires and fantasies, and reference materials with titles like “Dry Humping Saves Lives,” “It’s Okay to Have Sex With A Lot of People,” “How to View Porn,” and “Play With Yourself.”
“There’s truly nothing more sacred than the innocence of a child,” said Hoffman.
Hoffman added that scientific studies show that children are more vulnerable to sexually-explicit material because they have “mirror neurons,” which enhances what they see, and causes children to develop risky sexual behavior and intimacy disorders. He had to receive Department of Child Services (DCS) approval before showing to the committee some of the sexually explicit materials available to minors in K-12 schools.
ACLU of Arizona lobbyist Geoff Esposito argued that schools are perfectly capable of providing age-appropriate materials on their own without the interference of the legislature.
The Protect Arizona Children Coalition President Lisa Fink rebutted that inappropriate materials are, in fact, being taught in K-12 schools, citing multiple examples.
During the votes, State Senator Theresa Hatathlie (D-Coal Mine Canyon) said that while she doesn’t support pornography shown in K-12 schools, she believed that procedures existed in curriculum reviews outside the legislature. Hatathlie argued that the sexually inappropriate materials were occurring in a few schools, not many, and that perpetrators should be held accountable.
State Senator Christine Marsh (D-Phoenix) said she agreed with Hoffman’s examples of what was inappropriate, but said his legislation went too far and would create many unintended consequences. Marsh said that she doubted such inappropriate materials existed in classrooms, having never seen them herself before, but said that any teachers giving out those inappropriate materials should be punished.
State Senator Tyler Pace (R-Mesa) said he bought the contentious, allegedly sexually inappropriate books to review them for himself, and their presence at the house caused serious issues with his wife. Pace rebutted that the incidents cited weren’t as isolated as his Democratic colleagues would like to believe.
Early last month, the House passed the bill along party lines, 31-28.