Georgia schools targeted in battle for library books and online content
In Spotsylvania County, Pennsylvania, new school board members have spoken out about banning and burning books containing “sexually explicit” material. While in Campbell County, Wyoming, people attempted to get the local prosecutor to criminalize library workers for making sex education books available to young people. and LGBTQ.
School librarians are faced with an avalanche of such requests.
âThe volume of challenges ahead over the past two and a half, two months is unprecedented,â said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom at the American Library Association.
Headlines that deal with issues of gender and sexuality have been a target before, but were eclipsed in 2020 when George Floyd’s murder sparked interest in the breed, she said. Now they are back.
A top members of Georgia’s House of Representatives said she would push for approval of anti-obscenity legislation.
“I share the concerns of advocates and parents,” pro president Tem Jan Jones said in an interview. “I also share the same goal that ultimately children should be protected from the period of inappropriate material for their age, whether in the classroom or increasingly outside the classroom. “
Jones said she was open to disciplining, but not necessarily prosecuting, educators who intentionally expose students to such material. Its main concern is the inconsistency in how the 180 school districts in the state block student access to online sources.
âMost of the exposures are unintentional,â said Jones, R-Milton. “Some school systems have weak filters and I think this needs to be addressed at the state level.”
Public School Superintendent Richard Woods said through a spokesperson that he wanted to work with Jones “to update and strengthen” Georgia’s outdated law.
Noelle Kahaian, director of anti-obscenity group Protect Student Health Georgia, testified at the Georgia General Assembly last spring for legislation that would standardize and streamline the process of banning books.
âParents are very confident and they assume that the material in their libraries is age appropriate and does not contain sexualized material,â Kahaian said in an interview.
During a legislative hearing last spring, Kahaian read a passage implicating a rape scene. It was from “The Handmaid’s Tale,” a dystopian classic assigned to a class at Roswell High School. She was testifying for Senate Bill 226, which would then be passed by the Senate and then blocked at the House Rules Committee, where Jones sits.
Wendy Cornelisen, president of the Georgia Library Association, said the anti-obscenity movement is questioning the judgment of librarians and teachers trained to make educational decisions about content.
âThe problem is that it becomes a censorship problem and that it removes access to documents selected by the professionals who work in the school,â she said.