AUSTIN, Texas — A Texas bill that will make sending unwanted sexually explicit photos to another person a criminal offense in the state is set to become law on Sept. 1.
Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 2789 into law on June 10 after it passed the House 122-12 in April and unanimously in the Senate in May.
The legislation states that “[a] person commits an offense if the person knowingly transmits by electronic means visual material that depicts any person engaging in sexual conduct or with the person’s intimate parts exposed.” Violations would be a Class C misdemeanor and punishable by up to $500 in fines.
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Morgan Meyer, R-Dallas, and received the backing of the dating app Bumble.
“Sending a lewd photo to someone that has not requested it or someone you don’t know is no different than exposing yourself to a stranger in public or performing other lewd acts,” Meyer said in a statement. “This is becoming a bigger issue among our teenagers and young adults, and while it seems less egregious since done over text or email, we must establish that this is not acceptable by making it a punishable offense.”
“If indecent exposure is a crime on the streets, then why is it not on your phone or your computer?” Bumble’s Whitney Wolfe Herd also asked. “We want the standards of acceptable behavior online to match those in real life.”
Attorney Lynn Winter, who admins several social media accounts and a blog on motherhood, likewise expressed her support. She said that she is sent five to six lewd photos, mostly from men, via Instagram each week.
“You do get some photos, nude photos, and pictures of body parts you don’t ever want to see outside of your own marriage or relationship,” she lamented to local television station WFAA. “It’s disgusting. “It’s a norm, and it is sad that we just have to accept that.”
In 2017, the site YouGov found in a survey that 1 in 4 millenial men admitted to sending a photograph of their private parts to a woman. However, 34 percent said that they had been asked to send it.
The site also reported that a disturbing “trend” was spreading on subways, as men were “using iPhone AirDrop to send unsuspecting passengers in the same train car a picture of their crotch.”
But it is not just adults that are affected by the vulgarity. Leslie Timmons of Voice of Hope told local television station KLBK that the sending of inappropriate images is a growing problem among minors.
“It’s like a trophy to them, and they collect them in order to show them to friends later on,” she lamented. “Once you send that photo, it is no longer in your control, and will never really go away.”
According to local television station CBS Dallas-Fort Worth, studies show that 1 in 4 teenagers say they have received an explicit photograph, and 1 in 7 have sent such photographs to others.
Psalm 101:3 says, “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes. I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.”
2 Timothy 2:22 also instructs, “Flee also youthful lusts, but follow righteousness, faith, charity [and] peace with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”