SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – A proposed law aimed at combating obscene material in school libraries has parents and educators taking sides. Senate Bill 154 opens the door for librarians to face criminal charges.
Georgia school libraries are not part of the law that prohibits the distribution of harmful material to minors, but that could change with SB 154.
If it is adopted, school libraries will be included in this law, and librarians will face criminal liability.
One parent says the bill is a good idea.
“If it’s younger kids, if it’s something pornographic,” says Chatham County school parent Tony Lekakis, “I certainly don’t want my youngest child or even my 14-year-old daughter looking at something that I personally would find inappropriate.”
However, he says that advocating a complete ban on certain materials is going too far.
“I don’t think there should necessarily be a ban on books. I think there should be a section where you can only borrow books if you reach a certain age or something like that,” says Liakakis.
Others say threats of charges against librarians make them afraid to do their jobs, like Savannah resident Shakara Crowley.
“We employ teachers and librarians to educate our students, to educate our children, and to take them out of their hands and charge them with that doesn’t make any sense,” Crowley says.
She says this can lead to a slippery slope of banning anything and everything out of fear.
“Now it’s these. The next LBTGQ? Is it diversity? I mean, they’re not actually allowed to learn about slavery in school, so what’s the end of that?’ adds Crowley.
SB 154 only refers to “harmful material” that should not be allowed in school libraries, but does not provide a clear definition.
News 3 reached out to one of the bill’s 21 authors, Sen. Bill Hickman (R), for clarification, but he was unavailable for comment.
We’ve reached out to the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System for comment, and their statement specifically says that “parents may request that their child not be allowed to check out certain books.”
SB 154 has not yet been put to the vote.