Keeping My Kids Safe from Materials That are “Harmful to Minors”

Matthew Teutsch
5 min readFeb 16, 2022

As a parent, I keep thanking my lawmakers for the stands they are taking against any materials that may be “harmful to minors.” Here in Georgia, Senator Jason Anavitarte proposed Senate Bill 226, a bill that would protect my children from encountering anything that may be deemed “harmful to minors.” I wish, when I as a kid growing up in Louisiana back in the 1980s and 1990s I had laws like this to protect me from some of the smut we had to read while I was in school.

Sen. Anavitarte’s bill keeps my children safe from encountering any “description of representation, in whatever form, of nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sadomasochistic abuse,” and I am thankful for that. He is fighting to make sure that they don’t encounter anything at school that would somehow be “patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community as a whole with respect to what is suitable material for minors,” and if they do encounter it, he provides me with a well-organized plan to bring a complaint against the educators who seek to fill my children’s heads with such puerile filth.

I vividly recall during my childhood years in school encountering stories with “sexual conduct” and “sexual excitement” that made me feel uneasy as I squirmed in my chair, afraid to speak up and tell my teacher or parents about my uneasiness. My teacher taught us things that went against the “prevailing standards” of the community, but I did not have the courage to challenge my teacher because I feared the repercussions if I spoke out.

There are two stories that I explicitly remember. Sadly, I don’t recall the titles or the characters’ names, but the events that occurred in the stories left a lasting impression on me, and I felt extremely uncomfortable as we sat in a circle discussing them with my teacher, Mrs. Richland.

One story detailed the life of a man who had three sons. His oldest son married a woman, and the son died before the couple bore any children. So, the woman became a widow. In order to keep the family line going, the father had his second son marry the woman. Again, though, the husband died before they bore any children. As such, the woman was left a widow again. The father’s youngest son was too young to marry the woman, but the father told his…

Matthew Teutsch

Here, you will find reflections on African American, American, and Southern Literature, American popular culture and politics, and pedagogy.