Note: Language from SB 12 was amended into a separate bill, HB 1447, which passed both legislative chambers.
This bill prevents elementary and secondary schools and non-college/university libraries from raising a defense to existing law which makes it a felony to expose minors to “harmful” material. This would open up the possibility for teachers, school librarians, and principals to be criminally prosecuted. This bill also strips away protections for material that is disseminated for educational purposes and opens schools up to lawsuits from parents who disagree with any part of the school curriculum or material available in a school library. This unworkable provision presents a serious First Amendment concern.
Additionally, not presenting a clear definition of “material harmful to minors” raises significant due process and enforceability concerns. The vagueness of the statute could be used to silence protected speech on a multitude of issue areas and has historically been used as a tool to ban sex education material and material about LGBTQ issues from local libraries if community members and local prosecutors find it objectionable.
*Note: HB 1130 and HB 1522 were copycat versions of SB 12 that both failed in the House.