Texas, Louisiana Advance Bills Targeting Sexually Explicit Books in Libraries
Two states have advanced bills that would restrict youth access to sexually explicit materials in libraries. In Texas, the state Senate gave its initial approval to a House bill that would create a rating system for school libraries.
Under the Texas bill, a book would get a “sexually relevant” rating if the material describes or portrays sexual activity but is part of the required school curriculum. A book would get a “sexually explicit” rating if the material describing or portraying sexual behavior is “patently offensive” and not part of required curriculum.
Books with a “sexually explicit” rating would be removed from library bookshelves. Students who want to check out books with a “sexually relevant” rating would have to get parental permission first.
“Our schools must not sexualize our students or provide them pornographic reading material or introduce them to inappropriate materials that distract from the educational goals we’ve set as a state,” Cindi Castilla, president of conservative think tank Texas Eagle Forum, said during a Senate education committee hearing earlier in May.
Meanwhile in Louisiana, the state House was set to debate a bill that would create a card system to prevent children from checking out “sexually explicit material” from public libraries unless they have parental approval. The bill would allow parents to bring books to a local board for review.
Neither of these bills have advanced without controversy. Librarians, legal experts and some parents have expressed concern the Texas bill’s language is vague and broad enough to include books that are not inappropriate. Activists say the Louisiana bill is targeting LGBTQ+ content.