Tennessee lawmakers are considering a bill that would give parents the power to remove “age-appropriate sexual material” books from public libraries.
As currently written, the Parental Oversight Public Libraries Act would require each public library to establish a five-person “parental library review board” that would have the ultimate say as to whether a book should be removed from a library’s shelf.
The proposed legislation is identical to one introduced by lawmakers in Missouri in January 2020. Both of these bills would make it so that a librarian who “willfully neglects or refuses” the rules established by the review board could face up to one year of jail time or a fine of up to $500.
The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), which analyzes censorship trends in the United States, said the Tennessee bill “poses urgent dangers” to librarians, parents, and children, and warned that it would restrict the “freedom of librarians to exercise professional judgement in selecting books for their value to young people.”
“Parents and special interest groups have denounced many classic works as ‘obscene’ or ‘pornographic,’ despite their nationally recognized literary and educational value. For example, community members have sought to ban, as obscene,” NCAC wrote in a statement on their site.