Indiana Republicans crack down on school library content deemed ‘harmful’

Indiana lawmakers on Thursday added controversial language to a state House bill that would remove a legal defense for school libraries if their educators are accused of offering library books deemed harmful to students. That language was derived from a Senate proposal that passed earlier this session in February and has come up in various other bills. The language was added Thursday to a House bill related to student assessments. INDIANA BUDGET PLAN TO INCLUDE SCHOOL VOUCHER EXPANSION, EXPEDITED TAX CUTS Democratic Rep. Ryan Dvorak argued that was a “sneaky move,” as there was not a full House vote on the language before Republican lawmakers inserted it into the bill. In testimony, those who supported the legislation worried sexually inappropriate or “pornographic” materials are available to children in Indiana school libraries. Critics, however, were concerned the legislation could open the door to criminal prosecutions of educators for providing books about so-called controversial topics. STATE-FUNDED TEACHER GUN TRAINING BILL EXPECTED TO REACH INDIANA GOVERNOR’S DESK Under the bill, Indiana public schools would also be required to create a complaints process for community members who take issue with or find obscene a book assigned or available to their child. School libraries would additionally be required to publish a catalogue of their materials on the school’s website, or in a hard copy upon request. Republican Sen. Jim Tomes, the author of the Senate bill that passed the chamber in February, told lawmakers that parents had brought him several inappropriate books in their libraries, among them “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe, a coming-of-age story about gender and sexuality, which was the most “challenged” book of 2022 for the second year in a row, according to the American Library Association.
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