Law Eliminating Education Exception For Obscene Books In K-12 Schools Signed By Governor

Image Credit: Pleasant Hill Elementary School

The Tennessee Conservative [By Paula Gomes] –

A law that eliminates an exception for educational purposes pertaining to obscene books has been signed by Governor Bill Lee.

HB0841/SB1059 sponsored by Representative Susan Lynn (R-Mount Juliet-District 57) and Senator Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald-District 28) was a second attempt to build a barrier between the school children of Tennessee and the increasingly inappropriate materials that, in recent years, have made their way into school libraries throughout the state.

A bill to remove the educational exception put in place by the federal government in the 1960’s for materials that are legally defined as obscene was sent to summer study last year.

With the passage of this law, it will now be illegal to possess obscene material in a school building, bus, school grounds, recreational area, athletic field and all other property owned, used or operated by an LEA.

In addition, the law also makes it a Class E felony for book publishers, distributors, or sellers to “knowingly sell or distribute obscene matter to a public school serving any of the grades K-12.”

Instead of pushing through a bill last year that would have done away with the exception that protected anyone housing or distributing obscene materials from criminal consequences in educational settings, the Tennessee General Assembly passed the Age Appropriate Materials Act that requires each public school to maintain, and post on the school’s website, a list of the materials in the school’s library collection.

That law also requires that local school boards and public charter school governing bodies adopt policies for the review of books to make sure they are suitable for, and consistent with, the educational mission of the school.


At the beginning of the 2022 – 2023 school year, teachers were faced with cataloging the books in their classrooms and blamed conservatives for the additional workload. Had the legislature passed a law to rid schools of the education exception last year, a law that teacher and library unions lobbied against, conservatives say it would have addressed the real problem regarding inappropriate content in public schools then.

About the Author: Paula Gomes is a Tennessee resident and reporter for The Tennessee Conservative. You can reach Paula at

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