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Iowa Faces Lawsuit Over Controversial Book Ban

by | Dec 6, 2023 | News

 

The season of good will is getting off to an acrimonious start in the state of Iowa.  Penguin Random House, the Iowa State Education and bestselling authors Laurie Halse Anderson, John Green, Malinda Lo, and Jodi Picoult are among plaintiffs suing the state over SF496, the sweeping new l

aw that critics say seeks to silence LGBTQ+ students and bans books with sexual or LGBTQ+ content.

 

The lawsuit says:  “Rather than defer to trained professionals, such as teachers or librarians, to determine which books are appropriate for school libraries and classroom collections, Senate File 496 automatically prohibits two categories of books in school libraries and classroom collections: [books] “that contain a description or visual depiction of a ‘sex act’” [and books that]” ‘relate’ to ‘gender identity’ or ‘sexual orientation.’”

 

The plaintiffs argue that the state’s ruling is in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments”.  The First Amendment of the US Constitution prohibits any law limiting freedom with respect to religion, expression, peaceful assembly, or the right of citizens to petition the government.  The 14th Amendment gives equal rights to all citizens of the United States.

 

The plaintiffs said in a joint statement: “The First Amendment guarantees the right to read and to be read, to exchange ideas and viewpoints without unreasonable government interference.  The new Iowa state law flouts this core principle of the Constitution with sweeping legislation that eliminates student access to books with ideas and perspectives disliked by state authorities.”

 

Nihar Malaviya, PRH CEO, said in a statement that his company’s “mission of connecting authors and their stories to readers around the world contributes to the free flow of ideas and perspectives that is a hallmark of American democracy—and we will always stand by it”.   He added: “We know that not every book we publish will be for every reader, but we must protect the right for all Americans, including students, parents, caregivers, teachers, and librarians, to have equitable access to books and to continue to decide what they read.”

 

 

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