Crackdown on Content

Educators could be jailed under a new state law that makes it illegal to provide visually explicit materials to students. “Essentially, this was what we would call a solution in search of a problem.” -Kyle Farmer, senior staff attorney for the Missouri State Teachers Association


Eli Dean

Along with recent book bannings taking place in the NHS library, this new law could lead to the removal of more material from the library.

Maddie McCrea, Managing Editor

An addition to Missouri Senate Bill 775 calls for jail time and a fine for educators, librarians and administrators who provide any visual depiction of sexually explicit material to students. On Aug. 28, this new law went into effect.
If violated, the penalty for the law is a class A misdemeanor. According to the Missouri Sentencing Advisory Commission, the penalty for a class A misdemeanor is defined as “up to one year in jail; a fine not to exceed two thousand dollars.”
David Liss is the library coordinator for Nixa Public Schools. Liss said the staff, district wide, were informed to look into what the law entails as it went into effect.
“…[As a] follow up step, I specifically address the librarians because it does heavily involve the libraries,” Liss said. “Look at the law, look at what it says and bring to the attention of their administrator and/or me, … any materials that they feel could violate that law.”
Liss said the way the law affects teachers is by the way the school district responds to it.
“The way that we are going to respond to the law is we are going to review all of our materials — both library materials and curriculum — because the law does not just say library books.”
Specifically only visual depictions of sexually explicit material are affected by Senate Bill 775. Therefore, written literature in a school setting is not considered illegal. Although visual depictions of a sexual nature are prohibited, there is a clause that exempts works of art that have serious artistic significance, works of anthropological significance, or materials used in science courses.
Although the addition was only recently in effect, Kyle Farmer, senior staff attorney for the Missouri State Teachers Association, said the law does not prohibit anything that was not previously prohibited.
“Essentially, this was what we would call a solution in search of a problem,” Farmer said. “Librarians and teachers have never been able to provide pornography to students, nor have they been doing that.”
Advanced Placement Language and Composition teacher Briana Ashby said she does not know of any teachers who have or would show sexually explicit content without reason.
“I think we would all say the ways in which we would show it would have artistic merit or literary value so, I don’t really think it’s going to change much of what we do on a day-to-day basis,” Ashby said. “Specific to my role as a classroom teacher, would be in my classroom library not to have graphic novels that have any scenes in that regard and … any of the movies that we would watch.”
AP Literature and College Composition teacher Shane Lawless said he has not had to make any changes since the law went into effect.
“I think that there are very few cases where a teacher at Nixa is going to have to change what they teach, what they show students or what they give them because of this specific law,” Lawless said.
Liss said another way teachers are affected by the law, is by the types of materials that are being acquired.
“As people go out and look at materials and books to purchase, they would have to take the law into consideration as to whether or not they would be breaking the law to provide that to students,” Liss said.
Ashby said the thing to note is that showing sexually explicit content is not teachers’ roles as educators.
“The fact that we have this law in the first place sort of makes it appear to someone outside of education that educators are just gratuitously showing sexually explicit content…” Ashby said.
Farmer said it is important to know that schools have not been providing sexually explicit materials to students.
“This is not a change in the law that addresses a problem that is actually happening in reality,” Farmer said.

The Law:

“573.550. Providing explicit sexual material to a student, offense of — penalty — definitions. — 1. A person commits the offense of providing explicit sexual material to a student if such person is affiliated with a public or private elementary or secondary school in an official capacity and, knowing of its content and character, such person provides, assigns, supplies, distributes, loans, or coerces acceptance of or the approval of the providing of explicit sexual material to a student or possesses with the purpose of providing, assigning, supplying, distributing, loaning, or coercing acceptance of or the approval of the providing of explicit sexual material to a student.

2. The offense of providing explicit sexual material to a student is a class A misdemeanor.”

For the full bill including list of terms and definitions, go to this website: