New Mo. law makes it a crime for educators to have books with sexually explicit images in classrooms

New law makes sexually explicit books illegal in schools
Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 5:58 PM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - There’s a new law on the books in Missouri banning sexually explicit material from school Libraries in the Show Me State.

Under the law, Missouri educators could be punished for books they have in their classrooms.

As of Sunday, it’s a crime for Missouri educators to give minors books that contain sexually explicit material. However, some argue that the law violates educational and intellectual freedom and adds unnecessary stress to educators.

“I can’t speak for all school librarians, but I know they’re concerned and feel targeted,” Claudia Young, Missouri Library Association president, said.

Young said this law is a little different from other book bans we’ve seen before.

“It’s visual only, so you are going to be talking about graphic novels when you talk about this,” Young said.

Elaine Edgar said the images in those books have no place in a classroom.

“Pornographic material should never be exposed to our children. Period. What adults choose to do is different than what we expose our children to,” Edgar said.

She said parents need to be aware of what their kids are surrounded with.

“As a child, their brain is not prepared to handle something of that level of understanding,” she said.

Now, the penalty for exposing a child to explicit content as an educator is a class A misdemeanor, up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Southeast Missouri State University student Camille Shoals said regulations like this one, are the reason for poor teacher retention.

“We’re putting more stress on educators to do better on the back end, than to actually teach the children that go to the schools,” Shoals said.

She said the law should not include the library at high schools.

“This is what I think is an overstep,” Shoals said. “Now, it’d be different if they did it in elementary schools, then that would make sense. That’s a reasonable regulation. once you add it to K through 12, you’re making it harder for everybody.”

Young said it’s important to have policies in place, but school librarians are intentional about the books in their collections.

“By and large there are very few materials like this for children anyway,” Young said.

The Missouri Association of School Librarians did not have time for an interview due to a high volume of media requests, but they did issue a statement.