Senate bill could lead to massive censorship

WICHITA, Kansas — Senate Bill 401 in Kansas is up for debate. But several groups are debating it outside of Topeka, as a controversial bill.

“This could amount to massive censorship,” says Mark Desetti with the KNEA. “It’s just not a good idea.”

Desetti worries that the Bill would lead to censorship of artwork and even great works of literature.

“This bill, as it reads, would get rid of protections for teachers who want to show artwork. Even artwork that is within reason,” says Desetti. “For example, if I take a group of kids on a field trip to Topeka, and point out a statue there that is topless, do I get in trouble for pointing out the artistic merits of that statue?”

House Bill 401 is out of committee, and could be debated this week. It began, in part, in the Kansas City Metro area in the Shawnee Mission School district.

“My daughter saw this poster for sex education on the wall at her school, and she brought me a picture of it,” says Kansas City Metro area parent Mark Ellis. “I have talked to the American Family Association about it. I just don’t think the poster is okay. It’s too graphic, and not okay for her age group.”

Ellis is talking about a sex education poster that talks about ways to express sexuality. Some of the details are very graphic. The American Family Association of Kansas and Missouri thought it was too much, and is testifying and pushing for the passing of Senate Bill 401.

“Just so offensive,” says Phillip Crosby with the American Family Association. “It brought our attention to the materials that are harmful to minors.”

Some school leaders in Kansas say, if someone finds material offensive, they should bring it to the attention of the school, and handle it that way.

“State lawmakers probably need to let this one go,” says Lynn Rogers, President of the USD 259 School Board in Wichita. “There’s a community standard that we have to follow and understand but let’s let the community and the leaders in that community deal with that, not make it a statewide solution. We don’t need another law.”

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