Recently, there has been a divisive movement spearheaded by Republicans to emphasize parental rights – especially in HB 234: Revise dissemination of obscene material to minors laws.
How about considering parental responsibility?
- Parents are responsible for being part of the curriculum development process in schools, and there is a complaint process available if a parent is concerned about a teacher’s implementation of a particular curriculum or book choice by school and public librarians. If a parent does not take the time to be aware and involved through the processes described above, then they have abdicated their rights.
- Parents are responsible for knowing what their children are reading and setting the family standards for what is appropriate as children begin to select their own reading material. If parents do not supervise what their children are reading, then they have abdicated their rights.
- Parents are responsible for imparting their values regarding “obscenity” to their children. They are responsible for developing open lines of communication with their children so that the children can share any concerns about what they may be learning/reading, including something that might seem obscene.
Because there are wide variations within families as to what is acceptable, particularly regarding “obscenity,” it is the responsibility of schools and libraries to provide curriculum/book selections that span those variations. It is not the school’s responsibility to cater to any one set of possible parental standards. Nor should public libraries. There are general guidelines in place to determine the appropriate age for reading material and curriculum. Public schools and libraries have a duty to follow them.
What is “obscenity”? “To see it is to know it” does not work, as seeing something like “obscenity” “lies in the eye of the beholder.” Educators and librarians are not the arbitrators of what is/is not obscene for our society.
Parents, step up!