Missouri law bans books, calls for jail time and fines for any educator found in violation

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – A new Missouri law goes into effect Sunday.

Missouri SB 775 calls for a limit on reading materials in public and private schools.

“Books are and always have been a gateway to the past and the future,” said Colleen Norman.

She and other members of the Missouri Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee said that was not how the language of measurement began.

Tiffany Mautino, president-elect of the organization, said, “This bill was moving forward and at the last second that part that would affect libraries, school libraries in particular, was added.

Books containing anything considered sexually explicit are illegal. Exceptions are those considered to be artistic or informational in nature.

“This new law coming into effect and what is happening in my own school is setting my generation up to fail,” Keturah Flockstra said.

Nixa High School junior says she has been fighting the school board against these kinds of policies for months.

“This does not allow us to have several points of view. It doesn’t allow us to know some of the harsh realities, to know some of the things that happened before our time,” she said.

Nicholas Jungen, a recent graduate of Nixa High School, says the school curriculum is already limited.

“You are not taught the real story in school. It’s annoying when you find out, oh that’s not what we were taught, why weren’t we taught that? It is important,” he said.

“The loudest voice, the only voice is that voice for censorship, for removal, for surveillance, for the criminalization of librarians. The other side is either unaware or not talking,” Mautino said.

The penalty for violating the new law is a Class A misdemeanor which is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

“Unfortunately, it will be binding on the school boards making this decision. We have seen school boards across the state not following their own policies that they put in place when it comes to material challenges,” Norman said.

We’ve reached out to some of the largest districts in the Ozarks. All declined an on-camera interview to discuss their policy for handling this. But sent us the following statements:

Springfield Public Schools – “The District has asked our legal counsel to review this law and provide advice on any implications for SPS. Until we receive these details and have the opportunity to review with our administrative team, we would not be able to provide context for an interview. »

Republic Schools – “We are not entirely comfortable on camera about this potentially divisive issue as we build momentum for the start of a successful school year.”

Nixa Public Schools – “We are currently reviewing the impact the new law will have on all materials in our district. We will review the documents on a case-by-case basis as questions arise from parents or staff.

Willard Public Schools – “Thanks for the consideration, however, we are going to have to pass on this particular subject. I hope you understand that we are focused on kicking off the new year with several new faces on leadership and creating momentum for a great year ahead!”

“Books aren’t the only place where they’re exposed to complex and difficult issues,” Mautino said.

Flockstra said, “By removing these books, you actually create more curiosity about them, which will interest more people.”

“Yeah, bring books, we have the internet. It is a vast place. You can really fall into worse holes than some of the content these books offer,” Jungen said.

Norman said, “By removing choice, you remove a student’s ability to perhaps find something that represents them and that can help them learn more about themselves and their own personal growth.”

We also contacted the Missouri School Librarians Association for an interview. They declined due to the number of media requests they receive. You can find their statement on the law here.

A full version of the bill can be viewed here.

To report a correction or typo, please email [email protected]

About Stuart M. McFarland

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