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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Bill would change school policies on 'obscene' materials

A bill that would remove exemptions for public school employees to show material considered obscene to minors advanced out of committee in the state Legislature.

House Bill 234 is sponsored by Republican Rep. Bob Phalen, from Dawson County, and proposes to eliminate exemptions in Montana law that allows public school employees to present material to students that some may consider obscene as long as it has educational merit.

Proponents of the bill said it was necessary to protect children from being exposed to obscene material. In the bill’s hearing, the majority of books referenced as obscene contained depictions of LGBTQ sexuality.

Opponents of the bill said it was unnecessary because school districts already have processes for evaluating and removing material that is found to be obscene. They also said the bill did not clearly define what would be considered obscene.

The bill passed 12-7 largely along party lines and will now move to the House floor.

John joined the Montana Public Radio team in August 2022. Born and raised in Helena, he graduated from the University of Montana’s School of Media Arts and created the Montana history podcast Land Grab. John can be contacted at john.hooks@umt.edu
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