|Weekly News Digest
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Tennessee Bills Propose the Installation of Parental Oversight Boards for Public Libraries
Kelly Jensen writes for Book Riot, “Following in the footsteps of Republican lawmakers in Missouri, a pair of bills aimed at public libraries are making their way through both the House and the Senate of Tennessee. Senate Bill 2896, sponsored by Senator Paul Bailey (R-Sparta), and House Bill 2721, sponsored by Representative Andy Holt (R-Dresden) seek to create parental oversight boards for public libraries. Those boards, one for each library, would make final determinations on whether or not sexual materials are age-appropriate.”
The board members would be appointed by local government officials, not library representatives. Hearings would be public, with community members welcome to share their opinions. “Like the bill in Missouri, librarians would be subject to misdemeanor violations and fines in instances where they do not comply with board decisions. The state can also revoke funding for libraries not found in compliance.”
For advocates of small-government, these bills sponsored and backed by Republican state politicians—both in Missouri and in Tennessee—counter that narrative. They seek to remove the power of librarians from providing materials, including not just those for lending, but also events, speakers, and programming, for their entire communities. Instead, inalterable decisions would be made by an unrelated body of those without the training, education, or knowledge of the whole of their communities, undermining the purpose of a public library all together.
These bills directly discriminate against minority communities, and in particular LGBTQ+ people. By not having access to programs that celebrate and educate about their histories and their futures, and equally encouraging enjoyment, fun, and play, they’re pushed further into the shadows due to fear and bigotry of the most vocal.
For more information and a list of actions you can take to protest these bills, read the article.
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