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Sexting education bill heading to Illinois House floor

Maurice West

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Rep. Maurice West hoped to create a law last year to add sexting curriculum to sex education courses in Illinois. The plan would cover age-appropriate content for students in sixth grade through senior year of high school. While the bill passed out of the House with unanimous support, senators couldn't debate the bill after COVID-19 cut the session short.

The Rockford native reintroduced the bill because he feels students need to understand the consequences of sending or sharing sexually explicit messages. West's proposal could require sex education courses to include information on the long-term social, legal, and academic consequences of sharing or forwarding suggestive photos, videos, or messages.

He emphasized that students should also know about internet safety and the risks of sexting online. That became even more important after West spoke with reporters about an increase of sexting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"They mentioned to me their findings of how sexting has increased to virtual," West said. "A lot of our students are on Zoom sexting as well."

This proposal also highlights how students can report a sexting issue. West stressed students need to understand they could be charged with possession of child pornography if they're caught with the inappropriate content.

Keep in mind, this proposal would not make sex education mandatory for schools. If signed into law, the requirement would only affect schools already teaching sex education courses.

Committee members unanimously passed the bill on a 23-0 voice vote. It now heads to the House floor for second reading.

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Mike Miletich

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