As Book Battles Erupt across the Country, Idaho Turns to Legislation
A school board meeting in Anchorage, Alaska took a testy turn last week when a local dad decided to read aloud from one of the books the district was using to promote “tolerance.” “We hear so much about ‘diversity, inclusion, and equity,’” Jay McDonald said. “[But] we don’t often see specific examples … So today I brought an excellent representation … from one of the books that was just recently purchased for our libraries.” He barely made it three sentences before the vice president of the board ordered him to stop.
Before Carl Jacobs interrupted McDonald, he’d shocked parents by reading a section of the book “Let’s Talk about It” that encourages kids to send naked pictures to their friends. Other excerpts encourage children to seek out sexual websites to help them figure out their sexuality: “There’s nothing wrong with enjoying some porn, it’s a fun sugary treat.”
“This is a book for kids!” McDonald fumed. Jacobs jumped in, saying, “I’m going to interrupt you at this point. Just sounds like you have a concern about a book. I’d be glad to get [you] connected to the superintendent or team to go through the appropriate process,” — to which the dad replied, “I’d appreciate if you don’t interrupt my time.”
Moments later, things got heated as the board debated whether or not to let him continue. Finally, by a 5-2 vote, they decided to end McDonald’s time.
This is exactly the kind of controversy Idaho conservatives are hoping to prevent. This month, the House State Affairs Committee proposed a new bill called the Children’s School and Library Protection Act to protect students from “harmful material,” including books, movies, or other related media with sexual content. Under the proposal, educators and librarians would be required to restrict such content and monitor the accessibility of it.
According to the bill’s text, any materials deemed harmful to minors include topics like sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or anything else that would be considered provocative for minors. According to senior fellow for Education Studies at Family Research Council, Meg Kilgannon, the fact that such content needs to be restricted is an unfortunate reality. “In previous times, it would not even be considered a restriction to block this material,” she said. “It would have been unthinkable to even have it.”
If this bill passes, parents would have the ability to sue agencies that expose children to inappropriate content, adding an additional layer of accountability to the education system. Allowing parents to sue is a good step forward, Kilgannon says, but “the only reason we need a bill like this is because librarians, teachers, and school administrators are ignoring parents.”
Idaho Family Policy Center (IFPC) partnered with Representative Jaron Crane (R-Idaho) and Senator Cindy Carlson (R-Idaho) to draft the bill, referring to it as “library smut legislation.” In a blog announcing their partnership, Blaine Conzatti alluded to the importance of protecting the children of Idaho. “No parent wants their child encountering sexually explicit books at their school or community library. This legislation aims to protect our children’s innocence — and that’s a battle worth fighting.”
“This is just one state legislature’s attempt at addressing an issue that faces parents all across the country,” said Kilgannon.
And as far as McDonald is concerned, the more states who get involved, the better. “It’s not about one book or two books or 10 books,” he told Fox News. “This is a much larger push. They’re pushing critical gender theory on kids starting in elementary school. They’re encouraging them to get what they call ‘gender creative,’ and they’re transitioning them in the public schools, and they’re doing it without prior notification or consent from the parents. And in some cases they never tell the parents.”
“So I’m encouraging people, like if you’re not able to homeschool, please just sit down with your kids and talk to them about what they hear in school,” McDonald concluded.
Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.