WV House Passes Bill to Allow Prosecution of Librarians for Passing Out Inappropriate Books

February 20th, 2024 4:54 PM

The West Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill last Friday that would remove criminal exemptions for schools, public libraries and museums that distribute “obscene matter” to a minor. This means that if a school librarian gives a student a book about how to masturbate, that librarian can go to jail.

House Bill 4654 passed late last week by a vote of 85-12. 

“State Code defines obscene matter as anything an average person believes depicts or describes sexually explicit conduct, nudity, sex or certain bodily functions; or anything a reasonable person would find lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value,” News and Sentinel reported.

One issue that could present itself is that the word “obscene” is sort of down to individual interpretation. Something that may be “obscene” for a 20-year-old Gen Z'er may be different than something that’s considered “obscene” to a boomer.

Nonetheless, this bill seeks to protect kids from indoctrinating and grooming content, which has become more and more prominent in schools in recent years.

Whether it's books about masturbating, graphic novels about how to film and watch pornography or lessons about why and how you’re transgender, people who are supposed to look out for and be advocates for kids are the very people grooming them!

Critics insisted that this bill was just another conservative attempt to ban books. That’s, of course, not true and as News and Sentinel reported, “It merely provides the same prohibition against knowingly providing obscene materials to children outside the supervision of parents and guardians that already exist.”

Basically, kids shouldn't have access to content that is obscene at places like school, public libraries and museums. 

Bill sponsor, Brandon Steele, insisted that the bill is necessary to protect kids.

“I’m here to protect our young people and make sure they are not put in a vulnerable position where they are presented with pure pornography in an effort to groom them and prepare them for a potential sexual abuse or sexual assault,” Steele said according to WTAP, a local West Virginia news station. 

Employees of any of those places who are caught giving or showing minors any bits of obscene matter can face up to $25,000 in fines or up to five years in prison, or both.

The bill will now move on to the Senate before, if passed, it becomes state law.