If you’re a student (or know a student) in Kansas, major changes may be coming to your curriculum. The state’s Senate has recently passed a bill (SB56) removing legal protections for educators in schools for using curriculum methods that may be viewed as harmful to minors. However, the legislation did not remove the same protections for educators at colleges and universities.
Seen by supporters as a way to protect minors from “offensive content,” the measure gained traction after a poster in a Johnson County middle school spurred some parents’ ire. The poster, displayed as part of sex-education curriculum, asked the question “How do people express their sexual feelings?” Answers to that question included intercourse and anal sex. None of the answers to the question were depicted in any way on the poster other than with words. Some parents were offended by the posters’ content, and it was removed by the school.
The tide then turned to other materials which some could consider inappropriate, culminating in the bill passing in the Kansas Senate. It will now go to the state’s House of Representatives. The bill would allow for teachers, principals and other educators to be charged with misdemeanors for disseminating and/or displaying materials determined to be harmful to minors.
Nathan Whitman, educator from Burrton High School in Kansas, helped clear up exactly what the “offensive content” would be. He said, “inappropriate content called ‘harmful to minors’ as defined by SB56 is ‘any description, exhibition, presentation or representation, in whatever form, of nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement or sadomasochistic abuse when the material or performance, taken as a whole or, with respect to prosecution for an act described by subsection (a)(1), that…the average adult person…find[s]…[appeals to a] prurient interest in sex to minors[;]…depicts or describes nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement or sadomasochistic abuse in a manner that is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community[;]…lacks serious literary, scientific, educational, artistic or political value.'”