State legislatures across the country are proposing book ban bills
- State legislatures across the country are proposing bills that would prevent schools and libraries from teaching certain books.
- Some of the bills allow parents to file formal complaints about school materials or allow parents to join committees.
- Insider has identified 9 “book ban” bills in seven state legislatures across the country.
But this year, at least seven state legislatures so far are trying to codify some parents’ concerns into law with bills aimed at reshaping school curricula.
Insider has identified nine bills currently being debated in various state houses, some of which attempt to ban students from reading certain genres of books while others provide parents with the ability to flag and remove books from classrooms. of class, among other measures.
Some books have been repeatedly challenged in schools for decades, Insider previously reported. The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, for example, tracks the number of complaints books receive in schools and publishes the most disputed books.
But critics of the bans have said the new bills are “misguided” and possibly unconstitutional.
“Free speech protects our right to read, learn and share ideas without censorship based on opinion,” said Vera Eidelman, attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union. “Book bans in schools and public libraries – places that are central to our abilities to explore ideas, meet new perspectives and learn to think for ourselves – are misguided attempts to try to remove this right.”
The content of the bills passing through Statehouses this year differs from state to state. An Oklahoma bill bans entire genres of books from being taught or kept in school libraries. And in Florida, a bill would allow parents to join committees to shape a school district’s instructional materials.
But many of the books that could be pulled from shelves under these bills feature depictions of marginalized communities, such as LGBTQ people and people of color, Eidelman said.
“The vast majority of book bans being imposed across the country — whether through legislative proposals or direct actions by school districts or school boards — are aimed specifically at removing books that are by and about communities of color, LGBTQ people and other marginalized groups,” said Eidelman, who works on the organization’s Speech, Privacy and Technology project. “Censoring books on this basis is discriminatory and contrary to our First Amendment rights, and we are actively pursuing lawsuits to block these laws and policies.”
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, told Insider the bills were “all about politics.”
Weingarten said giving parents more transparency about what is being taught in classrooms is a step in the right direction, however, she also said there is currently a push from some conservative figures, who are “trying to exploit the angst and anxiety that people have about everything to create more factionalism.”
Weingarten added, “These attempts are simply intended to chill the teaching and learning that takes place in classrooms.”
But Florida State Representative Sam Garrison, who also co-sponsored the bill there, defended the measure earlier this month. Garrison said the main purpose of the bill was to “encourage” children to visit libraries and reassure parents about the books available.
“What this bill seeks to do is provide transparency to provide parents with the security and confidence that comes with knowing they can drop their children off at the local library and be there. comfortable. They want to encourage their kids to go to the library,” Garrison said, according to the TC Palm.
Florida Senate Bill 1300, who:
- Requires a media specialist in each school to review all books and teaching materials to ensure they are “age appropriate”.
- Requires elementary schools to post a list of each of their teaching materials online.
- Every elementary school would be required to post all school library materials online in a “searchable format.”
- Allow parents to join committees to “classify, eliminate or select teaching materials”.
- Allows parents to report school materials they deem “harmful to minors” and have materials potentially removed in a timely manner after a review process.
- If a parent is not satisfied with the exam response, they can appeal the decision to the local school board.
- Prohibits public schools and their libraries from carrying books that deal with “the study of sex, sexual preference, sexual activity, sexual perversion, classifications based on sex, sexual identity or gender identity or books of a sexual nature that a reasonable parent or legal guardian would want to know about or approve of before their child is exposed to them.”
- If a parent requests that a book be removed from a school district or school library, they can submit a request to have the book removed. If the book is not removed within 30 days, the school district or school faces a fine of $10,000 per day for each day the book remains on the shelves.
- Prohibits public schools from providing “material that is obscene or harmful to minors” to students in school libraries.
- Prohibits public schools from including books in educational materials that “promote, normalize, support, or address lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) issues or lifestyles.”
- Removes legal protections for teachers and libraries for supplying “material harmful to minors” for educational purposes
- Makes it a criminal offense for a teacher to use “obscene material or harsh pornography” in teaching materials.
- The penalty for an offender would be up to one year in prison and a maximum fine of $2,560.
- Bans public schools from including teaching materials that promote “a divisive concept”.
Are you aware of any additional bills in state legislatures that restrict the teaching of books or educational materials? Email [email protected]