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TN Politics: Lawmakers Approve Partisan Commission to Ban School Library Books

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Without providing evidence, Rep. Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station) alleges that nearly every county in the state has pornographic and obscene materials stocked in school libraries. Librarians disagree.

If signed by Gov. Lee, the law would allow an individual parent in any one school district to bring a book before a panel of Republican-appointed reviewers. Removal of books would be statewide. One Representative said schools should "burn them."

Political analyst Otis Sanford says the law appeals to Republican lawmakers who are finding "opportunistic" ways to "rile up the base."

Rep. Jerry Sexton alleges that "obscene" and "pornographic" material is available to children in school libraries in nearly every county, though he was able to name only one title, a widely-acclaimed young adult novel (that has been turned into a movie) about teenagers coping with a friend dying of cancer called, "Me, Earl and the Dying Girl."

Sanford says that based on recent state legislation aimed at Critical Race Theory and anti-LGBTQ legislation, a Republican-appointed committee would likely focus on banning books that make some lawmakers "uncomfortable."

In February, a school district in McMinn County banned "Maus," a Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel about the horrors of the Holocaust. The new law would allow those same parents who believe students should not have access to that book to lobby lawmakers for a statewide ban.

Also, this Tuesday is the Shelby County primaries. Sanford says it's an important race because in many cases it will determine even before the August general election who will be running local government.