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Concerns raised over definitions in new Missouri law targeting schools

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
Posted at 6:10 PM, Aug 24, 2022

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A law takes effect in Missouri on Aug. 28 that prohibits "sexually explicit material" in schools.

Missouri Sen. Rick Brattin's amendment to SB 775 outlaws school officials from providing explicit sexual material to a student. The amendment defines it as images showing sex acts or genitals.

Brattin said parents have come to him with concerns over these books:

  • Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
  • Dead End by Jason Myers
  • Gender Queer: A Memoir
  • All Boys Aren’t Blue
  • The Breakaways

Brattin said his amendment does not impact all material.

“If it’s for scientific learning or scientific type images, imagery for learning anatomy things of that nature, absolutely not," Brattin said.

Violators could be punished with a fine up to $2,000 or up to a year in jail.

The bill is getting push back from state library associations.

Part of a statement from the Missouri Library Association said:

"Working to criminalize librarianship and intimidate library and school boards into damaging their own institutions is a poor strategy long term, since doing so is a transparent effort to use moral panic as an opportunity to gain vulgar political ground."
Missouri Library Association

A portion of a statment from the Missouri Association of School Librarians reads:

"The Missouri Association of School Librarians (MASL) is committed to protecting the Freedom to Read, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Library Bill of Rights, and the essential tenets of intellectual freedom."

“I’m concerned for them," said Crystal Faris of the Kansas City Public Library.

She added youth librarians from the Kansas City Public Library work with the school district to provide materials the district may not have.

Faris has concerns over this part of the bill that identifies the person affiliated with a school that could be punished for violating the law.

"Guest lecturer, guest speaker, or other non-school employee who is invited to present information to students by a teacher, administrator, or other school employee," she said. “How will that affect us too? We’re still researching into that.”

The Kansas City Public Schools district said it's reviewing the law and plans to comply.

"KCPS plans to comply with the legal requirements of SB 775 and is in the process of updating our administrative policies to provide guidance for our staff members," a spokesperson said in a statement.