Tennessee bill would prohibit schools from offering “obscene” books in libraries
The proposal comes as McMinn County Schools is making national headlines for banning the Pulitzer-winning graphic novel Maus.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A new Tennessee bill would prohibit public schools from including “obscene” books in libraries. The bill, House Bill 1944, was proposed by Rep. Scott Cepicky of Culleoka and Sen. Joey Hensley of Hohenwald.
The bill would also apply to charter schools.
“An LEA or public school, including a public charter school, must not allow obscene materials or materials harmful to minors... to be available to students in the school libraries controlled by the LEA or public school,” the bill reads.
The proposal comes as McMinn County Schools is making national headlines for banning the Pulitzer-winning graphic novel Maus. Maus tells the story of Art Spiegleman’s parents, a Jewish couple in the Auschwitz concentration camp. The McMinn County school board banned the book from school curriculum for its obscenity, siting eight swear words and a drawing of a nude woman.
The Tennessee Library Association released a statement on the proposed legislation, expressly disagreeing with the idea of censorship in schools.
“The Tennessee Association of School Librarians, Tennessee Library Association, and Friends of the Tennessee Libraries jointly express our strong beliefs in the freedom to read and unfettered access to information, as protected by our first amendment rights,” the statement said.
After the book was removed from the curriculum, it flew off the shelves around the country. Knox Co. Public Library officials told WVLT News that there was a long list of holds on the novel; one issue had a waitlist longer than 50-people long.
If House Bill 1944 is passed it will go into effect on July 1, 2022.
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