FIRST ON FOX: A new House Republican bill aims to cut federal dollars from public schools that promote “materials that are harmful to minors” amid a nationwide debate over what children should be learning in the classroom.
The legislation, the No Obscene Teaching In Our Schools Act, was introduced by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark Green, R-Tenn.
“I’m appalled at some of the material our children are exposed to in school. Some books are so explicit that excerpts have been censored in school board meetings,” Green told Fox News Digital.
“Topics like radical gender ideology and explicit sexual material have no place on the shelves of our children’s schools. For eight hours a day, we trust schools to take care of our children. Explicit materials in libraries get in the way of a school’s true mission–to educate.”
The bill would cut federal funding from schools that are found to have learning materials, such as books in school libraries, that contain topics which have been restricted by state law as harmful to students under 18 years old. The bill text itself does not specifically define or refer to “explicit sexual material” or “gender ideology.”
If passed, schools found in violation of the law would either see their state’s educational agency returned the federal money – or, at the request of a guardian or parent, see funding routed into an educational investment savings account known as a 529, or a Qualified Tuition Plan.
“Parents send their children to school to learn—not be exposed to obscene materials. If a school breaks the law, states and parents should at the very least have the flexibility to divert a child’s education funding to a 529 plan,” Green explained.
School districts across the country have seen debates spark over what kind of materials children should be exposed to in school, particularly without parental knowledge.
Some states, like Florida and Texas, have cracked down on the issue with recent laws. In Florida as of this year, adults are forbidden from giving kids access to “pornographic or harmful materials” on school property.
As of June, school libraries in Texas were forced to clear material that could be considered sexually explicit.
A Virginia law that has led some schools in the state to voluntarily pull materials from their shelves requires schools to adopt notification policies for parents if their child’s instruction material contained sexually explicit content. Virginia parents may opt their students out of those lessons.
However, critics of the move claim it is unfairly restricting access to materials that are not harmful to students. Nonprofit PEN America has claimed the crackdowns amount to “censorship” and unfairly target female, LGBTQ and non-White authors.
The Biden administration announced earlier this year that it would appoint a special coordinator on “book bans” as part of a slate of new protections for LGBTQ students.