|December 31, 2022 10:57 AM
|Senator Ryan P. Aument
|All Senate members
|Parental Control of Student Exposure to Sexually Explicit Content in Schools
|In the near future I intend to reintroduce Senate Bill 1277 from last session to provide parents with the ability to be fully aware of the mature, sexual content their child may be provided in school and the ability to deny their own child access to such content should the parent believe it is inappropriate.
In the past year I have been contacted by parents concerned with inappropriate content in their children’s school curriculum and library books. This issue is certainly not unique to Pennsylvania as parents across the country have been shocked at the increasingly sexualized material being provided to their children or made available to them in classrooms and school libraries. In examples right here in Pennsylvania, parents have identified books and assignments that contain graphic sexually explicit content that adults would be prohibited from viewing while at work.
Parents, understandably, are outraged. And when voicing their concerns to school administrators, many have felt like their concerns were dismissed or trivialized. This is unacceptable. Parents must be confident that their children are receiving a quality education in our schools without being exposed to inappropriate, sexually explicit content.
In this day and age, when it seems increasingly unlikely that a community will reach consensus about what is appropriate educational content for children, we must empower parents to individually make that decision for their own children.
To that end, my bill would require schools to identify sexually explicit content in school curriculum, materials, and books and notify parents that their child’s coursework includes such content or that a book their child wishes to view in the school library contains explicit content.
Parents would then have the opportunity to review the materials and make the decision of whether to allow their children to be provided that coursework or prevent their child from viewing that particular book from the library through an opt-in form. If the parent decides to not opt-in their child for coursework that includes concerning content, the child will be provided with a non-explicit alternative.
It is important to note that the opt-in approach is a change from Senate Bill 1277, which would have required parents to opt their children out of such material. However, after receiving feedback from parents, I decided that an opt-in approach is more appropriate.
The opt-in approach is currently utilized by a school within my district where the superintendent explained, “the use of the opt-in form was a way to ensure that we were honoring parent rights related to the upbringing and education of their children.”
I couldn’t agree more. Providing parental notification and control of the content and materials being provided to their children will go a long way to increasing communication and trust between parents and their schools. Please join me in supporting this bill.
Introduced as SB7