Teachers In This State Face Jail Time If They Share Banned Books With Students
A new Missouri book ban in schools can penalize educators who violate the law with monetary fines and jail time.
Book banning and the teacher shortage are two topics in education garnering nationwide attention with plenty of mixed emotions and reactions. Books are being challenged and removed from school libraries at record rates. On top of that, some teachers and librarians feel more criticized than ever because of what classroom materials they use. In Missouri, educators now face jail time and monetary fines if they offer students access to banned books, thanks to a new Missouri book ban law.
The Missouri book ban law, known as SB 775 went into effect on Sunday, August 21st. The extensive bill prohibits public and private schools from offering material that may be deemed sexually explicit. While states with similar legislation merely subject districts to fines and penalization of state funds, the Show-Me State punishes those who break the law on the individual level. Educators are subject to a $2,000 fine and up to a year in prison if found guilty.
In defining what constitutes as sexually explicit material in the Missouri book ban legislation, the state says schools can not have any titles that include pictures of masturbation, sexual intercourse, genital visualizations, and more. Books that depict human anatomy for scientific purposes and anatomy for art purposes are excluded. The act followers similar movements within conservative states all across America as parents urge lawmakers to enforce stricter transparency and say over what materials are being used inside the classroom.
Across the midwestern state, librarians are scrambling to update school library offerings amid the new Missouri book ban. Out of precaution, the Missouri Association of School Librarians (MASL) released a statement encouraging all educators to familiarize themselves with the new law. What’s more, they urged those confused to seek guidance from district boards before removing any material. But still, given the strict ramifications for those who are found in violation of the new law, many districts were quick to ask their librarians to begin reviewing material.
On top of everything going on concerning the Missouri book ban law, the state is facing massive teacher shortages. St. Louis public schools are struggling to recruit and retain teachers. The state also is ranked one of the lowest in teacher pay. With new laws like this one placing a further target on individual educators and how they can teach children, the situation finding the state lacking teachers is likely only to worsen.
According to a report from NBC News, school districts in at least 26 states have restricted students’ access to a plethora of novels. Much like those opposed to this Missouri book ban, some educators fear that it is unconstitutional and censoring, especially as it pertains to the LGBTQ+ community. Oftentimes, the books being challenged all have transgender or queer themes.
In truth, schools across the nation have for the most part had their own rules in place to make sure that inappropriate material was left out of schools. While many parents want to make sure certain material never makes its way into the classroom, the fact remains that some parents approve of giving their teenagers access to these contentious novels. The debate over the matter rages on, and more states are expected to follow suit with the Missouri book ban.