SUPPORT SB 17: Restricting Material Harmful to Minors

Executive Summary:
Senate Bill 17 would help protect minors from exposure to harmful material such as sexually inappropriate content while at school or public libraries. In Indiana law, there is currently a special list of entities which have special protection against prosecution for allegations that they exposed minors to harmful material of some sort. Schools and public libraries are currently on that list. Senate Bill 17 takes schools and certain public libraries off of the list with special protections against claims of exposing minors to harmful material. Additionally, colleges and universities are added to the list.

Removing schools and public libraries from the list of entities with a special defense is a wise step to keep children safe. The original intent of having them on this list was likely to promote the broadest amount of expression possible, making sure children weren’t being held back from necessary material. In our current day, however, many schools around the country and in Indiana have exploited their responsibility to teach children by exposing them to material which by any decent standard is wholly unsuited for minors. In a July 2021 meeting of the Carmel Clay School Board, one parent read aloud titles of several books available to minors which feature themes of rape, drug use, graphic sexual acts, as well as promoting masturbation and transgenderism for toddlers. The contents of these books are often so explicit that they can’t be summarized in the news, but yet they are available to minors.1

It is reasonable to remove universities from the list of entities with a special defense from allegations of exposing minors to harmful material. Universities are overly focused on sensitivity and need to be encouraged to teach more subjects, even ones that may be “offensive.” Public libraries and schools, however, must get their act together in how they behave towards children. It is extremely psychologically damaging when young children are exposed to pornographic content or taught radical ideologies at such early ages. Sadly, this is happening all too often thanks to the internet, but schools must not be allowed to be part of the problem. It is the duty of educators to protect students, serving as secondary partners to parents in teaching children how to grow up in a healthy and wise manner. Senate Bill 17 would do just that.

IFI supports SB 17.

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