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After Failed Attempt, Republican Lawmakers Try Again on "Sexually Explicit" Books

Horia Varlan / Creative Commons

Last year, lawmakers passed a measure to keep parents in the loop when their children are reading books at school that reference sex. The governor vetoed that bill, but now members of the General Assembly are trying a different approach.

Last year, lawmakers tried — unsuccessfully — to get schools to notify parents before their children read books like Toni Morrison’s “Beloved.” The trigger being content that was “sexually explicit.” That struck many, including the governor, as vague. So this year Republicans are narrowing the trigger to any book that depicts sexual assault or rape. Republican Delegate Steve Landes says parents have the right to know.

“And I take offense too to the individual parents that were concerned about this — that you describe them as individuals who want to ban books when that’s just not true.”

Democratic Delegate Alfonso Lopez says the end result of the bill would be censorship.

“Would a trip to the National Gallery of Art require a warning to parents that many Greek and Roman sculptures depict sexual assaults? Are we saying that history and civics classes would not be able to discuss the real problem of war crimes involving rape?”

Last year, the governor vetoed a similar bill. This year, lawmakers believe he’s likely to veto this again — if it gets through the Senate.