BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – A controversial bill that restricts some books from children in public libraries passed one of its final hurdles in the legislature on Tuesday.
SB7 would require libraries to adopt policies to restrict certain books for children to check out if they’ve been deemed as sexually explicit. It mandates every library system has a library card system that would block certain age groups from being able to check out books the local board has reviewed.
But some take issue with the bill, saying that a lot of the books outlined are LGBTQ in theme and it is targeting that community.
The bill has been dubbed “Protecting Innocence” in an effort to keep children away from books that don’t align with a parent’s values. In the report by Attorney General Jeff Landry, the majority of the books and graphic novels are for adults and about LGBTQ experiences. Portions of the graphic novels were printed into the report showing sexual scenes, which Landry said should never be shown to children.
“Look at the content… and ask yourself, as a parent, would you not want this content placed in an age-appropriate spot?” Landry asked.
State Sen. Heather Cloud, R-Turkey Creek, took a shot at the media for misrepresenting the bill and said it is not about moving or removing books in libraries – despite Landry saying it is during his testimony.
Librarians from around the state shared their concern over the vagueness of the bill and asked for clarification on what community standards the library boards should follow when reconsidering a book.
“All of the 67 library systems put in place a policy that protects children from sexually explicit material. Those may look different in each parish. It’s based upon community standards,” Cloud said.
A librarian said a parish councilman in Livingston said “rainbow books” or rather LGBTQ books don’t meet the parish standard and should not be in libraries. Libraries go through a process of deciding if a book should be purchased for the library and where it should be placed based on age group.
“Public libraries already have collection development policies in place to safeguard children from sexually explicit material. Every library has a system for which community members can challenge, and we all have reconsideration policies,” said Amanda Jones with the Louisiana Library Association.
Cloud said there are too many libraries that do not have a more clear policy in place so the state needs to step in and make sure books aren’t getting into the hands of kids without parents knowing.
There is still concern by some smaller libraries on how to implement the restricted card program with limited resources and the part of the bill that allows the State Bond Commission to restrict funds from libraries that do not put in a policy.
The bill now heads to the full House for its final debate as long as there are no amendments before it is sent to the governor’s desk.