Sen. Jake Chapman. (photo from Legislature)

A bill advanced by an Iowa Senate subcommittee would make it a serious misdemeanor for a teacher or school librarian to provide students with access to obscene material or hard-core pornography. A conviction could land an educator in prison for up to a year.

Senate President Jake Chapman, a Republican from Adel who is the bill’s sponsor, held up a photocopied page from an illustrated novel during a hearing at the statehouse.

“We have fantastic teachers. That’s why my kids go to public education,” Chapman said, “but that does not negate those teachers that have advocated and distributed this type of material.”

Several parents who support the bill read passages from books they want removed from schools. Opponents of the bill say obscenity law requires a book to be judged as a whole and Melissa Peterson of the Iowa State Education Association said the bill is unnecessary.

“We already have very clear definitions of what constitutes obscene materials,” Peterson said. “We already have severe penalties for our education professionals and employees should they happen to violate that existing standard.”

The bill’s future is uncertain. Governor Reynolds has proposed a bill that would send parents’ complaints about school materials to the State Board of Education if a local school board fails to respond within 30 days. The governor’s bill also requires all the titles of books in school libraries to be posted on the school district’s website.

(By Grant Gerlock, Iowa Public Radio)