Pornography for Children is Not Protected by the First Amendment By KAREN HARDIN for The Stream
Earlier this year, parents in Loudoun County, VA, called out the school board for racist material used as curriculum and available in the school libraries. We have now learned there are many school libraries with graphic sexually violent, pornographic material available at our children’s fingertips. Could this be happening in your child’s school? If you said, “no,” think again.
Janice Danforth, a mom in Bixby, Oklahoma, decided to check her son’s school library. At least two titles were discovered. (Note: A link to check out your child’s library and a downloadable list of titles are at the end of the article.)
The Battle Over Books
The process to remove the books isn’t so simple. To date, no standard criteria currently exists for books to determine what is appropriate and what isn’t. As a result, the decision is often left up to a school librarian or a review committee with no further oversight.
According to Oklahoma State Representative Sherrie Conley, “Over 35 years ago Tipper Gore championed parental advisory ratings on music with explicit lyrics. We also have ratings on video games and movies, but no true rating system on books. Books have genres, but those rated YA (young adult) in our school libraries include graphic novels and porn imagery in which the writer uses descriptive language to create an erotic picture in the reader’s mind. These books have been found in elementary schools, middle schools, and high school libraries.”
Conley set out to get the books removed by writing three pieces of legislation, all of which were blocked, that would have created guidelines based on the federal obscenity law (HB4013) as well as ways to help parents get the books removed. It wasn’t until a social media post by Libs of TikTok went viral exposing the books as readily available to children that school leaders and lawmakers responded even though Conley and others had been making the fact known since February.
Danforth’s battle to get the books removed from her son’s school stretched over five months. She first filled out a complaint form. It then went to a committee to review. Her request was rejected. She then presented her concerns before the school board. She received 15 minutes to present her objections. Then Bixby Assistant Superintendent, Jamie Milligan, argued on behalf of the district to keep the books in the library claiming it was a First Amendment right.