NATIONAL NEWS

Indiana bill could make book banning in schools easier

Apr 27, 2023, 7:58 AM

Indiana Republican Rep. Martin Carbaugh speaks before the House on Thursday, April 27, 2023, at the...

Indiana Republican Rep. Martin Carbaugh speaks before the House on Thursday, April 27, 2023, at the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis. Indiana lawmakers that advanced a state House bill that would remove a legal defense for school libraries if their educators are accused of offering library books harmful to students. (AP Photo/Arleigh Rodgers)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Arleigh Rodgers)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana lawmakers on Thursday gave their final approval to a bill that could make it easier to ban books from public school libraries.

The bill would require school libraries to publicly post a list of books they offer and provide a complaints process for community members. Schools and librarians could also no longer argue, as a legal defense, that the texts in their libraries have “educational” value. The law would still allow them to argue the text has literary, artistic, political or scientific value.

“That’s how I would describe educational, by the way,” GOP Rep. Martin Carbaugh said before the House voted 70-27 in favor of it.

The language passed in February and had come up in various other bills this session. It was added Thursday to a House bill related to student assessments and received quick approval from the House and Senate. The bill now heads to to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb.

Those who supported the legislation expressed concern that sexually inappropriate or “pornographic” materials are available to children. Critics, however, said the legislation could open the door to banning books simply because some people don’t like the topics, as well as criminal prosecutions of educators for providing such books.

“Do we really want some parents choosing books for what other kids are reading or not reading?” Democratic Sen. J.D. Ford, the state’s only openly gay legislator, said Thursday. “I still think it’s a slippery slope.”

Republican state Rep. Becky Cash insisted the bill “protects the schools.”

“I hope that as this plays out, people will realize that,” she told The Associated Press.

Democratic Rep. Renee Pack spoke to lawmakers about her daughter, Leah Johnson, whose book “You Should See Me In A Crown” was declared “obscene” by the Oklahoma attorney general’s office.

“Why, Leah, do you write these books?” Pack said she asked her daughter, whose book is about a Black girl who falls for her competition for prom queen.

Pack said her daughter’s response was that “it was horrible and confusing, growing up and not seeing me and who I was represented in literature. So this is my way of letting young people know you are not alone, no matter what anybody tells you.”

The bill was subsequently approved by the Senate 39-10.

Republican Sen. Jim Tomes, according to the American Library Association.

Attempted book bans and restrictions on libraries have surged, setting a record in 2022, according to a recent report by the ALA. The vast majority of complaints have come from conservatives, directed at works with LGBTQIA+ or racial themes, according to Deborah Caldwell-Stone, who directs the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.

“We all know, in this room, there is no pornography in our schools,” Indiana Democratic Rep. Matt Pierce said Thursday. “What it is, is young adult fiction that talks about lesbians and gays and people that are different than some of us, and it’s giving us a realistic portrayal of the challenges and the burdens and the struggles that those minorities face.”

___

Arleigh Rodgers is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/arleighrodgers.

National News

FILE - Herring are unloaded from a fishing boat in Rockland, Maine, July 8, 2015. Several commercia...

Associated Press

New England fishermen sentenced in complex herring fraud case

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Several commercial fishermen in New England have been sentenced in a fraud scheme that centered on a critically important species of bait fish and that prosecutors described as complex and wide-ranging. The fishermen were sentenced for “knowingly subverting commercial fishing reporting requirements” in a scheme involving Atlantic herring, prosecutors said in […]

9 minutes ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump addresses the crowd at a campaign e...

Associated Press

What to know about the attempt on Trump’s life and its aftermath

The FBI is still trying to determine a motive behind Saturday’s attempt to assassinate former President Donald Trump, while the tone of this week’s Republican convention in Milwaukee likely will be dominated by the violence. A former fire chief who was killed at Trump’s Pennsylvania rally is being remembered as a “man of conviction.” The […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Mechanical issues prompt 2 Delta Air Lines flights to divert, return to airport

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Two Delta Air Lines flights were diverted over the weekend because of mechanical issues, the FAA said Monday. Delta flight 927, en route from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to Atlanta, was diverted to St. Louis shortly before noon Saturday because of an issue with cabin pressure, the airline said in a statement. […]

3 hours ago

trump assassination...

Ayanna Alexander, The Associated Press

What to know about Trump assassination attempt and the investigation into the shooting

Authorities want to know how a shooter was able to get on top of a roof so close to where former President Donald Trump was speaking and open fire.

3 hours ago

FILE - An overwhelmed residents surveys the damage following flooding caused by the remnants of Hur...

Associated Press

Vermont seeks federal damage assessment for floods caused by Hurricane Beryl’s remnants

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont is seeking an assessment to determine whether last week’s flooding, which damaged homes, knocked down bridges and washed out roads, qualifies for a federal disaster declaration and aid. The flooding from the remnants of Hurricane Beryl happened a year after the state experienced catastrophic flooding that left some victims still […]

3 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event in Butle...

Associated Press

Federal judge dismisses Trump classified documents case over concerns with prosecutor’s appointment

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal judge presiding over the classified documents case of former President Donald Trump in Florida has dismissed the prosecution because of concerns over the appointment of the prosecutor who brought the case. U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon granted the defense motion to dismiss the case on Monday. Lawyers for Trump had […]

4 hours ago

Indiana bill could make book banning in schools easier