TN Parents, Students Speak Out Against Library Censorship Legislation

Advocate Andy

Group gathered at TN State Capitol, spoke out against "approved book list" bill

A group of Tennessee parents and public school students gathered at the Tennessee State Capitol this morning to express opposition to legislation that would effectively ban books from public school libraries by creating an "approved book list" developed by the Tennessee Textbook Commission.

At the event, Williamson County High School student Lindsay Hornick spoke about the importance of having a wide range of books in public school libraries.

Hornick said, " Books allow us to learn about the world through a variety of lenses and create our own opinions on controversial topics. They teach us about the past in ways that explore the truth. No matter how difficult it may be to hear, the documented past allows us to learn and grow. It allows us to prevent tragedies from repeating.”
Image provided by Williamson Strong

The legislation would require that any book available in a public school library be previously approved by the Tennessee Textbook Commission. If a book was not on the approved list, it could not be available in the library. The Tennessee Association of School Librarians (TASL) has expressed opposition to the measure.

Andrew Maraniss, parent and non-fiction children’s author, spoke in support of librarians and diverse books saying that “any attack on books, schools, and librarians is really an attack on us, on all of us, on democracy. Everything is connected. So, it’s really disgusting and outrageous that we have to be here standing up for the rights of people to read books, but that’s where we are. If we are in a culture war, give me the side of the librarians, the teachers, the schools, the parents, and the students.”

Dr. Rod Berger, parent of children in Williamson County Schools said, “What we are battling for the nation to see in plain sight is extremists in their attempt to erode public institutions for the installation of short sighted, exclusive and divisive guardrails."

During floor debate on the legislation, which passed the House this morning, Rep. Jerry Sexton indicated that any books removed from libraries as a result of the bill should be burned.

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Andy Spears is a middle Tennessee writer and policy advocate. He reports on news around public policy issues - education, health care, consumer protection, and more.

Nashville, TN

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