Missouri law bans ‘sexually explicit’ books; calls for jail time, fines for educators found in violation

Missouri SB 775 states that books containing material that is considered sexually explicit are now illegal in schools. (Source: KY3)
Published: Aug. 24, 2022 at 12:11 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3/Gray News) – A new law limiting reading materials in Missouri schools went into effect Sunday as many districts start the new school year.

Missouri SB 775 states that books containing material that is considered sexually explicit are now illegal in schools. The exceptions are those considered artistic or informational in nature.

The law applies to both public and private schools.

Tiffany Mautino, the Missouri Library Associaton’s Intellectual Freedom Committee’s chair-elect, said banning books from school libraries wasn’t how the language of the bill started out.

“This bill was going forward and at the last second, this part that would affect libraries, school libraries specifically, was added,” Mautino said.

Keturah Flockstra, a junior at Nixa High School in southwestern Missouri, said she has been fighting the school board against these types of policies for months.

“This new law going into effect and this stuff happening within my own school are setting up my generation for failure,” Flockstra said. “It’s not allowing us to get multiple perspectives. It’s not allowing us to know about some of the harsh realities, know about some of the stuff that happened before our time,” she said.

Recent Nixa High School graduate Nicholas Jungen agrees. He said the academic curriculum is already limited.

“You’re not taught real history in school. It’s annoying when you find out, ‘Oh that’s not what we were taught, why weren’t we taught this?’ This is important,” he said.

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

KY3 reached out to some of the largest districts in central Missouri, all of which declined an on-camera interview.

In a statement, Nixa Public Schools said, “We are currently reviewing the impact the new law will have on any materials in our district. We will be reviewing materials on a case-by-case basis as questions arise from parents or staff.”

Mautino said books are not the only place where students will be exposed to complex and challenging issues.

Jungen agreed, pointing out that students have easy access to the internet.

“Yeah, take away books; we have the internet. It’s a vast place. You can really fall down some holes that are worse than some of the content that these books offer,” Jungen said.

KY3 also reached out to the Missouri Association of School Librarians for an interview. They declined based on the number of media requests they are receiving. You can find their statement on the law here.

A full version of the bill can be found here.