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New Jersey bill would deny funding to schools if their libraries remove pornography

State Senate majority leader: School boards shouldn’t decide; ‘Libraries are sacred’

Democratic lawmakers in New Jersey have proposed a bill which would deny state funds to schools that “ban” books from their libraries.

So states a headline from The Philadelphia Inquirer. However, immediately below a sub-headline uses “restrict access” in place of “ban.”

A subtle, yet distinct, difference.

Last year there were 13 attempts to “restrict access” to books in New Jersey’s public schools, according to the American Library Association. One effort pertained to “Gender Queer” (pictured) — the ALA’s #1 most challenged book — which the Inquirer describes merely as the “chronicles [of] the author’s sexual identity journey.”

That journey includes, unfortunately, sexually explicit artwork that isn’t permitted even in magazines such as Playboy and Penthouse.

The synopsis of Bill S3907 reads “Prohibits public libraries and public schools from banning or restricting access to certain books; permits withholding of State Aid for non-compliance.”

Thus, elementary and middle schools which “restrict access” to books like “Gender Queer” could lose funding.

Bill sponsor Andrew Zwicker, who either has never seen what is in “Gender Queer” or believes it’s cool for children to view explicit material, told the Inquirer “I wish we didn’t have to do this. It’s really discouraging to see the number of attempts going on in New Jersey and around the country. It’s so unbelievable divisive and just wrong.”

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Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz, a co-sponsor, added “The bigger and larger issue is that this is not something I think school boards should be dealing with. Libraries are sacred.”

From the article:

Republican lawmakers say they want to make sure books distributed in public schools and libraries are age-appropriate. State Sen. Ed Durr […] is drafting a bill that would require an age-rating system for books in school libraries, similar to that used for movies, to determine appropriate reading materials.

“It’s a total misrepresentation for Democrats to say that parents are looking to ‘ban books’ simply for expressing their concerns about the unrestricted availability of content that’s not age-appropriate in their school libraries,” Durr said.

Nikki Stouffer, leader of the NJ Fresh Faced Schools group, opposes the measure and dismissed it as “the porn bill.” A mother of two, she has shared graphic content from books that her group says should be pulled from schools.

“This isn’t education at this point,” said Stouffer, of Medford, a bio statistician. “It is not really appropriate for school.”

Ewa Elliott, president of the New Jersey Association of School Librarians, said parents like Stouffer “shouldn’t be pushing the same rules on everybody’s children.”

MORE: You are NOT a ‘book banner’ or ‘anti-drag’ for wanting your kid far away from explicit material

IMAGE: The Ripped Bodice/Twitter screencap

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.