Book Banning Bill May Appear Before the Iowa State Senate This Session

Nicholas Barron

Iowa state senators are entertaining legislation that could make it a crime for school librarians and teachers to distribute books deemed obscene.

State Sen. Jake Chapman, R-Adel, plans to introduce the bill during the Iowa state senate’s current session, which began this week, a Cedar Rapids newspaper reports.
Photo from the Iowa State LegislatureIowa State Sen. Jake Chapman

While Chapman hasn’t yet revealed what the legislation might entail, Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, said he expects books in schools to be one of the matters senators debate in the coming weeks.

“Over the last two years, there has been an increased emphasis on education and parental choice and parental rights within education in the state of Iowa,” Whitver said.

Whitver added that he expects the state senate will review what policies enable schools to police the books schoolchildren receive and if those policies are available to all school districts in the state.

Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls, D-Coralville, rejected what he sees as Republicans playing politics with education.

“The last thing that we need is to pour the gasoline of partisan politics on public education,” Wahls said.

On Tuesday, Gov. Kim Reynolds addressed books in schools during her Condition of the State speech.

“All schools should be required to publish what they’re teaching,” Reynolds said. “There’s no reason to hide it—at least no good reason. The same goes for the books in the library. Parents should know what their kids have access to, and they should have a timely process to address their concerns.”

Books in schools are a hot topic across the nation

Chapman’s expected legislation comes as schools and parents across the country debate the role government should play in books in schools.

Last month, an Urbandale, Iowa, panel comprising community members and educators voted to keep five books in its schools despite complaints from parents.

In Oklahoma, a state senator’s introduced legislation that would:

  • Allow parents to demand a school remove a book within 30 days.
  • Fire the school employee responsible for removing the book if they don’t do so within 30 days.
  • Enable parents to seek monetary damages of at least $10,000 a day if the book’s not removed within 30 days.

And in Virginia’s recent gubernatorial race, the Republican candidate, Glenn Youngkin, resurfaced a 2013 book banning case in a TV ad. Youngkin won that election and is scheduled to be inaugurated on Jan. 15.

The American Library Association reports its Office for Intellectual Freedom has recorded 230 book censorship attempts since Sep. In addition, the organization releases a list of books it says are most often challenged across the country.

Five of the books from the most recent list are by Black authors.

The author of one of those books, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, tweeted last week about her concern for schools removing her title.

“​​It's emotionally taxing to have my book(s) banned,” Thomas wrote. “But not because they're my books, but because all I can think about is the message it sends to the Black kids who see themselves in my books. They deserve to have their stories told whether it makes you comfortable or not.”

How do you feel about the Iowa State Senate potentially debating books in schools in this session? Let me know in the comments. Also, if you found this article interesting, be sure to share it on social media. And follow me on NewsBreak for more book-related stories.

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