Maine Librarians Fight Bill to Ban Books Considered 'Obscene'
Tuesday, March 14, 2023
School librarians in Maine are fighting a bill that would ban
schools from providing students with books considered "obscene," saying it could potentially criminalize educators. Proponents of the legislation say they are merely protecting children from inappropriate material but educators say the definition of the word obscene remains unclear.
Heather Perkinson, Maine Association of School Libraries president, said librarians are being singled out and harassed, finding their names and phone numbers posted online.
"We are all worried about whether books that we have in our libraries are going to be challenged and whether it's going to get us into some kind of trouble," Perkinson said.
Perkinson added the bill is similar to other GOP-driven measures across the country and is part of a larger attack on public education. The American Library Association reports
more than 1,600 attempts to ban titles in 2022, the highest number in decades.
Most of the titles garnering complaints from parents and lawmakers deal with LGBTQ relationships or gender identity, including the title, "Gender Queer," a graphic memoir by Maia Kobabe.
Perkinson said the book speaks to many students in Maine who question their own identities.
"Unless you read the whole book, if you just see those images, then you're not getting the whole context and the whole narrative," she said.
Perkinson added librarians work hard to purchase appropriate materials with school district money, considering reputable review sources, book awards and the school's particular curriculum. When one parent attempts to take away the rights of students to read a specific book, they are infringing on the rights of all parents, she said.
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