February 1, 2022

Indiana Senate approves bill limiting library legal defense over material harmful to minors

If a prosecutor alleges schools or libraries shared harmful materials with minors, Senate Bill 17 would disallow them from claiming it was for educational purposes. - (FILE PHOTO: WTIU)

If a prosecutor alleges schools or libraries shared harmful materials with minors, Senate Bill 17 would disallow them from claiming it was for educational purposes.

(FILE PHOTO: WTIU)

A bill approved by the Indiana Senate removes a legal defense for schools and libraries if they're accused of sharing harmful material with minors. Under the legislation, those groups could not claim that harmful materials were shared with minors for educational purposes.

Sen. Jim Tomes (R-Wadesville) said the goal is to prevent children from accessing pornographic books. 

"This is not about guns, it's not about communism. It's about raw, nasty, filthy pornographic literature," he said. 

READ MORE: Senate bill would limit legal defense for libraries over access to harmful material


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Senate Bill 17 would apply to materials defined as harmful to minors under current Indiana law. But librarians from across the state oppose the bill because they said it could limit what's included in public libraries that serve all ages. 

Sen. Fady Qaddoura (D-Indianapolis) agrees with the bill author's intention, but he said the bill doesn't improve the process to handle parent complaints – especially about other types of material they might see as harmful.

"This bill addresses one – or tries or attempts to address one aspect – but completely ignores other offensive harmful material that is actually sitting on the shelves of our libraries," he said.

The bill passed 34 to 15, and now heads to the House.

Contact reporter Jeanie at jlindsa@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @jeanjeanielindz.

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