Republican Rep. Harriet Hageman of Wyoming grilled a witness during a Thursday hearing, asking if she believed preventing teachers from showing first graders pornographic magazines was “censorship.”
“Miss Johnson, I just have a real, quick question for you: Do you believe it is censorship to prohibit teachers from exposing first graders to Penthouse magazine?” Hageman asked Nadine Farid Johnson, the managing director for Washington and Free Expression Programs at PEN America, during a hearing held by the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Limited Government and the Constitution. (RELATED: School Board President Slams Parents For Protesting Pornographic Books)
“Do I believe it is censorship? I’m sorry, ma’am, do I believe it’s censorship to–” Johnson said.
Johnson, who claimed that recent parental rights and education reform legislation in Florida promoted censorship in her initial testimony, deflected Hageman’s question two more times. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida signed that state’s version of legislation into law in March 2022 to address parental complaints about explicit materials.
“I believe it is important to have parents, teachers and educators involved and understanding what… is being presented to a student,” Johnson said.
Florida pulled multiple books on the grounds of having explicit content, including “Gender Queer,” “Let’s Talk About It” and “It’s Perfectly Normal.
“Do you believe it is appropriate to present Penthouse to first-graders?” Hageman asked after accusing Johnson of refusing to answer the question.
“Of course not,” Johnson said after previously dodging the question.
Parents across the country have raised objections to books with sexually explicit content in recent years, prompting some states to act to remove them from schools.
Oklahoma announced a rule Feb. 10 that would allow the state to strip schools of certification if they make “pornographic materials or sexualized content” available in school libraries.
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