The American Library Association has fought hard to keep plenty of books on school library shelves throughout the country, even if those books include sexually explicit material.
The Daily Caller News Foundation obtained documents recently that showed that the former president of the ALA said the group helped to “develop” laws that would combat various attempts to remove such books from shelves.
In April, Democratic Representative Raul Grijalva from Arizona and Democratic Senator Jack Reed from Rhode Island re-introduced what’s called The Right to Read Act. It ensures that students have access to “culturally diverse and inclusive materials,” the lawmakers said, and that includes books with sexually explicit material.
In addition, librarians are given liability protections under the law so they can curate those materials. The lawmakers issued a press release that said the bill was intended to fight back efforts by Republican lawmakers and parents who are trying to get inappropriate books removed from school library shelves.
In the release, Grijalva said:
“The Right to Read Act is a direct response to those efforts and reaffirms that First Amendment rights apply to school libraries, given the alarming trend of book banning, and protects school librarians and other educators in carrying out their duty to protect students’ right to read.”
While participating in an online forum for members of the ALA back on April 10, Lessa Pelayo-Lozada, the president of the ALA who served from 2022-2023, said the group helped to “develop” that bill. As she wrote:
“There have been some discussions about if it would be possible to develop other legislative approaches that bolster these protections. ALA helped develop one such approach, which was introduced in Congress last year as the Right to Read Act. …
“Regardless of any proactive approaches we might support, there is no silver bullet to stop people from proposing bad ideas, so unfortunately we expect it will be necessary to continue playing defense for the foreseeable future. Which is also why we have the Unite Against Book Bans campaign.”
That campaign is an initiative the ALA started “to empower readers everywhere to stand together in the fight against censorship,” as the group has posted on its website.
It provides action toolkits that gives talking points against bok bans, as well as instructions on how people can organize a peaceful protest against them.
The ALA also offers a link where people can report on local book challenges, as well as a full list of the most challenged books of 2022.
The ALA has advocated for sexually explicit books to stay on school library shelves, per one of its policies, which reads:
“Libraries should not limit the selection and development of library resources simply because minors will have access to them. A library’s failure to acquire materials on the grounds that minors may be able to access those materials diminishes the credibility of the library in the community and restricts access for all library users.”