The Lone Star State has taken a step in the right direction to protect children from sexually explicit content without parental consent, a Texas dad told Fox News.
"What [Texas is] trying to do here is not ban anything so much as moderate the content that's put in front of children," Juan Saldivar, a father of three, told Fox News. "Make it appropriate for their age and their maturity level and the educational requirement that they're trying to fulfill."
A Texas bill headed to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott's desk for passage would set new standards and ratings for sexually explicit materials to regulate the books available in public and charter school libraries across the state. The bill defined sexually explicit material as content that included descriptions, illustrations or audio that depicted sexual conduct not relevant to the required school curriculum.
"There are certain things that are not designed specifically for children because they either haven't reached the age of reason or they haven't fully developed the ability to consent to certain things," Saldivar said.
The Lone Star State dad told Fox News he would be upset if his 12-year-old daughter was exposed to graphic sexual content without his consent.
"I wouldn't take my child to see an R-rated movie," Saldivar said as an example. "The choice really lies with the parent."
Critics have argued LGBTQ-related books would be targeted, and that the bill's vague standards could lead to unfair book bans. But supporters, like Saldivar, have said the law would eliminate content that may be too inappropriate for kids while allowing parents to choose what material they want their children to have access to on their own time.
"I don't think they're being targeted at all," Saldivar said of the LGBTQ community. "You still have access to those things, but they're in the appropriate venue."
If passed, the state's school book vendors would assign a rating of "sexually relevant" if the material showed sexual content but aligned with the school's curriculum, or a rating of "sexually explicit" for books considered offensive and unrelated to the required school curriculum.
Books rated as sexually explicit would be banned from school libraries, but state officials could review ratings and reverse those book bans.
"I think defining the sexually explicit nature of these materials is important," Saldivar said. "It's important in order to protect our children."
The book "Gender Queer," for example, was No. 1 on the most challenged books in 2022 for the second year in a row, according to the American Library Association. A father from Maine previously told Fox News he doesn't support book bans, but graphic sexual content should be removed from schools after his son checked out the controversial "Gender Queer" book which included a scene about oral sex. And the dad's 11-year-old was also offered books including sexual content that made him uncomfortable.
"There's no reason for it, especially as a taxpayer in this community," the Maine father told Fox News. "I'm paying for these books to be sitting on the shelves, and it just blows my mind."
The Texas Senate approved the bill with a 19-12 vote on Tuesday. The legislation awaits the governor's signature.
"I support what the Texas legislature is doing, and I hope that Governor Abbott signs the bill," Saldivar said.
To hear more from a Texas parent, click here.