‘Banning Books’ or Protecting Kids from Sexually Explicit Material?
There seems to be an increase in claims that conservatives and Republicans want to “ban books” — especially since Florida signed the Parental Rights in Education bill into law in March of 2022. The phrase “banned books” can lead people to think of book burnings. Most Americans strongly oppose book burnings, because they believe in the freedom of speech that is protected by the First Amendment.
While it’s hard to find someone that is in favor of “banning books” outright, most people agree that children should not be exposed to sexually explicit material, so there should be sensible limits — just as there are limits to which movies they’re allowed to watch. According to a Rasmussen poll that was released last October, “Sixty-nine percent (69%) of voters believe books containing explicit sexual depictions of sex acts, including homosexual sex, should not be present in public high school libraries. The majority opposed to sexually explicit books in public school libraries rises to 79% for middle schools and 85% for elementary schools.”
Many people also oppose teaching kids critical theory which is rooted in Marxism. Both critical race theory and critical gender theory teach kids to classify individuals as either “oppressors” or “oppressed” which leads to distrust, more division, and sometimes violence.
Are sexually explicit and critical theory books in schools really something to be concerned about? Sadly they are, and more people are waking up to this. It’s a priority that crosses the political spectrum and religions.
Politicians in both the Democratic and Republican Parties have noticed that books in school libraries are a topic that the public has great interest in as well. During President Joe Biden’s 2024 reelection campaign announcement, he made reference to the book debate. He warned that “MAGA extremists” are “dictating what health care decisions women can make, banning books, and telling people who they can love.”
Republican Governors Ron DeSantis (Fla.) and Glenn Younkin (Va.) also continue to talk about it and have upheld policies that support parental rights in education. In March, DeSantis said, “We believe in the rights of parents to be involved in the education of their children and therefore have enacted curriculum transparency legislation, so that the parents know what books are being used in the classroom, what books do their kids have access to. And then they have procedures where they can say, ‘Wait a minute’ — you know, some of the stuff you saw up there — ‘that is pornographic,” the governor said. “Why would we have that in a media center with 10-year-old students? It’s just wrong.”
As both major political parties recognize voters’ interest in this issue, could it be that Democratic political strategists intentionally use the term “banned books” in order to scare voters into thinking that Republicans want to censor books? Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster, implied that they do. She told Politico reporters, “Book banning tests off the charts. … People are adamantly opposed to it and, unlike some other issues that are newer, voters already have an adopted schema around book banning. They associate it with really authoritarian regimes, Nazi Germany.”
In light of this Democratic strategy, it is important that Republican candidates not allow Democratic candidates to stop debate on this issue by accusing them of shutting down free speech by “banning books.” No Republican is suggesting that any book be banned outright — the books in question can easily be obtained at a public library, bookstore, or online.
Instead, they should boldly speak the truth about sexually graphic and inappropriate books in school libraries and the essential rights of parents. As Glenn Younkin and other Republican candidates have shown, not only is speaking up for parents and protecting children the right thing to do, it’s a winning strategy.