Iowa Attorney General Appeals Federal Court Decision on Law Banning Explicit Books from School Libraries

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa Republican Attorney General Brenna Bird has filed an appeal against a federal district court’s decision to halt the implementation of a law that bans certain books from school libraries. The law, signed last year, prohibits books with depictions or descriptions of a list of sex acts from being accessible to students.

Bird expressed her commitment to protecting the innocence of children and maintaining safe learning environments in schools. The appeal aims to uphold Iowa’s law and defend the interests of Iowa families in court.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Iowa, Penguin Random House Publishing, 16 LGBTQ students in Iowa, Iowa Safe Schools, and the Iowa State Education Association teachers union collectively challenged the law. They argue that it infringes upon their First Amendment rights to free speech.

According to the lawsuit, the books being removed from schools under the law’s “age-appropriate” standard do not qualify as pornography and do not meet the legal definition of obscenity outlined by the U.S. Supreme Court.

U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Locher, who blocked the law’s enforcement until the case is resolved, described the law as “wildly overbroad”. He noted that the law has led to the removal of numerous books, including non-fiction history books, classic works of fiction, Pulitzer Prize-winning contemporary novels, and books intended to educate students about sexual assault prevention.

Furthermore, the law also prohibits the teaching of gender identity and sexual orientation in schools up to sixth grade. Locher pointed out that the law’s definition of these terms extends beyond LGBTQ individuals and applies to all discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation.

Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley, a Republican, indicated that House Republicans may introduce additional legislation to further clarify or expand the scope of the law. Grassley expressed his shock at the opposition’s support for retaining sexually explicit material in schools, questioning the educational value of such content in the context of elementary school libraries.

Opponents of the law argue that the proposed administrative rules fail to adequately specify the legislative intent, potentially resulting in the removal of a vast number of books from school libraries. The rules clarify that neutral references or mentions of sex acts not described or visually depicted are permissible in school libraries.

In conclusion, Iowa’s controversial law banning books with explicit content from school libraries is being challenged by various organizations on the grounds of First Amendment rights. The law’s enforcement has been halted pending further litigation. Judge Locher characterized the law as overly broad and criticized its removal of books that lack explicit content. The debate continues regarding the legislation’s impact on children’s education and the right to free speech.