A proposed law in Missouri looks to aim at legalizing book banning in public libraries. The Parental Oversight of Public Libraries Act would add several new provisions to the state’s law that establishes funding for public libraries.
One of the provisions is the establishment of “parental library review boards.” Parents elected to the boards would be able to evaluate whether library materials have “age-inappropriate sexual content.” The bill defines this as any form of nudity, sexuality, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sadomasochistic abuse. “Librarians take that stuff very seriously,” Missouri Library Association president Cynthia Dudenhoffer told ABC. “It’s not like we buy things willy-nilly.”
Librarians are barred from serving on these boards, even if they are from the community.
If the bill is passed into law, the boards would be allowed to hold public hearings and receive suggestions of potentially inappropriate books. The board would then have the authority to order the library to remove the material so minors can no longer have access to said material.
If any library does not comply with the board’s decision to remove certain items, the library will be stripped of its funding. Librarians can also be fined $500 and be imprisoned for up to one year.
Public libraries are typically funded by the state government. To have their funding stripped for having books that have sexual content in them is awful. If libraries don’t receive funding, they won’t be able to operate.
Perhaps the most disturbing part of the proposed law is that librarians who do not comply will be imprisoned for up to one year.
Imprisoning librarians for keeping books that provide value to the collection is horrid.
This bill is a way to legalize book banning in public libraries.
If this law is passed, books that deal with LGBTQ+ themes, sexual assault, and other important topics are at risk for being pulled from libraries by these review boards.
This means that books such as “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda,” “Let’s Talk About Love,” “Speak,” and more titles can be pulled from libraries. All of these books deal with LGBTQ+ themes and/or sexual assault.
These books provide value and insight into other people’s experiences. They shouldn’t be removed just because parents think the book is inappropriate.
Everyone has the right to read what they want. More importantly, they have the right to choose what they want to read.
Books are meant to teach and educate people. This bill makes that significantly more difficult. If this is passed, it may catch on to other states. As students it is our obligation to use our voices and avoid censorship.
As most of us are not underage, this may not seem like it has the potential to affect us. But it does, regardless of whether or not this is happening to us or in our state, censorship impacts society as a whole.
Like Ray Bradbury said “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”