SEND AN EMAIL: Don't Criminalize Schools, Libraries, and Museums in North Dakota
Legislation in North Dakota would subject every employee of a school library to criminal prosecution for the books on the shelves of their library.
Three bills in North Dakota could lead to jailing librarians if a State or County prosecutor felt a book is obscene.
HB1205 and SB2360 would criminalize schools, colleges, universities, museums, public libraries, and art galleries under state obscenity laws. SB2360 tries to redefine what the test for obscenity is in North Dakota. That's been settled law for 50 years. And HB1205 prohibits public libraries from maintaining "sexually explicit books" and requires libraries to remove any challenged book within 30 days. That means anyone who is sensitive about a topic like sex or gender or even romance novels can dictate what everyone else reads.
Award-winning authors like Margaret Atwood, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and James Joyce have been caught in the crosshairs of ‘obscenity’ challenges. Even Winnie the Pooh was called into question for not wearing pants. Groups like Moms for Liberty have gone after books about Seahorses for being obscene as well as books about Johnny Appleseed and Hurricanes. That means school librarians could go to jail over Winnie-The-Pooh, health teachers and nurses over sex ed classes, and AP English teachers over difficult but important subjects.
Quite simply put, librarians, educators, and museum professionals are under attack. For over 60 years, North Dakota law has guaranteed that politicians and censorship activists cannot target school teachers and librarians over allegations of obscenity. Going after public libraries, schools, and museums like this means that a small group of people could control what we can read, view, and watch. Only 8% of voters in the US think that there are "many books that are inappropriate and should be banned".
We cannot let a bill like bills like these open every school, library, and museum - and the public servants who keep them running - up to criminal prosecution to satisfy a few crusaders. Join the North Dakota Library Association, the ACLU of North Dakota, the National Coalition Against Censorship, Prairie Action ND, and EveryLibrary in opposing all three of these bills. Send your message to the state House and Senate today.