SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – A proposed law meant to crack down on 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 a law that makes it illegal to distribute harmful material to minors—but that could change with SB 154.
If passed, school libraries would be included in that law, and librarians could face criminal charges.
One parent says the idea behind the bill is good.
“If it’s younger children, if it’s something pornographic,” says Chatham County Schools parent Tony Liakakis, “I certainly don’t want me younger child or even my daughter at 14 looking at something that me personally would find inappropriate.”
However, he says advocating for outright bans on some materials is a step too far.
“I don’t think there should be necessarily a book ban. I think it ought to have a section where you can only take books out if you’re a certain age or something along those lines,” says Liakakis.
Others say threatening the librarians with charges makes them fear doing their jobs, like Savannah resident Shakarra Crowley.
“We hire teachers and librarians to educate our students, to educate our children, and to take them out of their hands and charging them with it doesn’t make any sense,” says Crowley.
She says this could lead to a slippery slope of banning anything and everything out of fear.
“Now it’s these. Is it the LBTGQ next? Is it diversity? I mean, they’re not really allowed to learn about slavery in school right now so where does it end?” adds Crowley.
SB 154 only refers to “harmful material” that cannot be allowed in school libraries, but it doesn’t provide an explicit definition.
News 3 reached out to one of the bill’s 21 sponsors, Sen. Bill Hickman (R) for clarification, but he was unavailable for comment.
We reached out to Savannah-Chatham County Public School System for comment and in a statement, they say in part that “parents may request that their child not be permitted to check out certain books,”
SB 154 has not been put up for a vote yet.