(AP) — A state lawmaker is carrying a bill that would let schools suspend or expel kids for sexting — sharing sexually explicit material via text message.
Democratic Assemblyman Ed Chau of Arcadia says Assembly Bill 2536 would also require that health classes include information on the dangers of sharing scandalous content.
The bill specifically deals with images or video — lewd language isn't enough — and focuses on cases where the message has "the effect of humiliating or harassing a pupil," the Sacramento Bee reported Saturday.
California law isn't clear on whether principals can discipline pupils for sexting and his bill would spell out administrators' authority and discretion and teach students about the dangers of sexting, Chau said.
"Over the last few years we have heard many stories about the impacts of sexting. Sexting has real consequences," Chau said.
"You basically have a sexting issue and then that issue is exacerbated by the proliferation of these smartphones," which Chau said is fueling more cyberbullying.
Civil libertarian groups have been wary of broad restrictions on online speech. In an emailed statement, American Civil Liberties Union lobbyist Kevin Baker said Chau's bill does not raise "any immediate red flags" but that the organization was analyzing "potential impacts on the civil rights and civil liberties of California students" before taking an official position.
A spokesman for the Association of California School Administrators said the group is still studying the bill.
High school students' penchant for racy missives burst into the news last year after more than 100 students at a Colorado high school were allegedly involved in exchanging explicit photos on their cellphones. Students faced the possibility of criminal charges, though prosecutors didn't file charges.
Complicating the situation in Colorado was the question of how to treat students who had consensually shared images. Chau said he hasn't yet decided how his bill will handle cases of consensual sexting.
"The consent issue I think we need to look at a little more closely," Chau said. "I don't want to have a weak policy — I want to have a policy in which we take a strong position."
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