Bill would bar books with explicit sexual content from school libraries
DES MOINES — Books with obscene or graphic sexual content would have to be removed from the libraries in Iowa schools if a bill that’s cleared the Iowa House becomes law.
Republican Representative Brook Boden of Indianola said the bill makes it clear “sexually explicit content” is not age appropriate for students. “I honestly cannot believe that this is a bill that we need to pass, but unfortunately the books that contain images and passages exactly with these sex acts…have been found in Iowa schools,” Boden said.
Sixty House Republicans voted for the bill. Three Republicans and all Democrats in the House voted against it. Representative Elinor Levin, a Democrat from Iowa City, said she’s part of the first generation who started learning about sex from the internet. “Our kids are going to ask questions,” Levin said. “Let’s ensure they have access to good models, as selected by educators, not just the uncurated internet world they have in their pockets.”
Representative Sue Cahill, a Democrat from Marshalltown, is a licensed teacher librarian. “I know the process that we as teacher librarians use to vet our books,” Cahill said. “Yes, there may be some passages that, taken out of context, may seem inappropriate.”
Cahill said it’s the literary value of the book as a whole that puts it on the school library shelf. Boden said the bill provides new guardrails for school library books.
“Parents may still read the books of their choice to their own children,” she said. “We are simply setting age appropriate guidelines for K-12 settings, making sure that we protect our children.”
Governor Kim Reynolds has a proposal of her own on school library book policies and the Senate has not yet debated the issue.