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The state can now jail violators of the sexually explicit book ban


Some Missouri schools may be removing “sexually explicit” reading materials from library shelves after a new state law announced a possible prison sentence for those who disobey.

Missouri SB 775, which went into effect Sunday, bans all books in public and private schools that contain material deemed “sexually explicit.” Books deemed artistic or informational are exempt from the law.

Lawbreakers are charged with a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a $2,000 fine and up to a year in prison.

Tiffany Mautino, chair-elect of the Missouri Library Association’s Freedom of Thoughts Committee, told WXIX that the bills didn’t begin by banning books.

“This law was pushed ahead and at the last second this part was added that would affect libraries, especially school libraries,” Mautino said.

The law describes sexually explicit materials such as photographs, films, videos, images of computer-generated images depicting human masturbation, sexual intercourse, direct stimulation of the genitals, sadomasochistic abuse, or emphasis on depicting post-pubertal human genitals. Content related to science subjects such as anatomy, biology, and others is not subject to the law.

Missouri students are speaking out against the new law.

“This new law coming into effect and these things happening in my own school are setting my generation up for failure,” Keturah Flockstra, a junior at Nixa High School in Nixa, told WXIX. She said she spent months fighting with her county’s school board against restrictive policies like SB 775.

Nixa Public Schools released the following statement: “We are currently evaluating the impact the new law will have on materials in our district. We will review materials on a case-by-case basis as questions arise from parents or staff.”

The Missouri Association of School Librarians (MASL) posted a statement on its website encouraging educators and school librarians to become familiar with the law.

“School librarians are encouraged to consult with their administration and Board of Education regarding school library materials based on SB775,” the statement said.

MASL also advised librarians on what to do when faced with book problems at school.

“MASL stands with all school librarians,” the statement said. “We recognize the immense impact of a challenge and will support our librarians in maintaining intellectual freedom.”

It’s not the first time Missouri has made headlines for banning certain content. That year, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of two minors against the Wentzville School District for removing eight books from school shelves. The state can now jail violators of the “sexually explicit” book ban

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Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.

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