The State Board of Education in South Carolina is contemplating a universal definition of “age-appropriate” educational materials for schools and libraries.
The aim is to prohibit descriptions or depictions of sexual conduct, as well as items deemed “obscene” or “indecent.” This initiative, driven by conservative policymakers, is part of a broader trend across several states to limit access to books addressing topics such as race, gender identity, and sexual orientation in public schools. The proposal faced diverse opinions during a recent meeting, with supporters advocating for unbiased curriculum matching students’ cognitive development, while opponents expressed concerns about potential overreach, claiming it could jeopardize inclusive books that resonate with marginalized students.
The proposed regulation not only draws its definitions of “obscene” and “indecent” from federal statutes but also requires district boards to assess whether library shelves could be improved with more “rigorous” or “objective” materials. Critics argue that such measures could lead to the removal of books addressing sensitive subjects and impact students from diverse backgrounds.
Similar laws restricting classroom instruction on gender identity or sexual orientation have been enacted in seven other states, prompting the removal of certain books from educational settings.