A Tennessee legislator has introduced a bill that would establish a parent-led review board for each library that could ban “age-inappropriate sexual material,” including drag queen story hours.
The Parental Oversight of Public Libraries Act, sponsored by state Sen. Paul Bailey and state Rep. Andy Holt, would establish a five-member review board for each public library to determine “whether any sexual material provided to the public by the public library is age-inappropriate sexual material.” Voters would elect the members.
The board would hold public hearings, during which time “members of the community may present concerns to the board,” according to the bill’s text.
The bill is HB 2721 in the House and SB2896 in the Senate.
Holt said it would provide local control on controversial issues. “There haven’t been many” drag queen story hours in Tennessee, he said, “but there have been a few.”
“This bill is trying to create panels to decide for themselves – at the local level – what is and what is not age-appropriate as far as presentations in libraries,” Holt told the Jackson Sun.
He added, “The people on these five-person panels would be elected by the people of the geographic area served by the library – the county or city, whichever applies – and they would be the ones to decide what is and what is not appropriate for their libraries.”
The bill defines something as age-inappropriate that is a “description or representation, in any form, of nudity, sexuality, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sadomasochistic abuse, that:
- 'Taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest of minors;
- "Is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community with respect to what is appropriate material for minors; and
- "Taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors."
"Any such determination or order made by the board shall be the final determination or order on such materials, and shall not be subject to any review by the governing body of the public library, the state, or any political subdivision thereof,” the bill says.
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.