March 9, 2022

Lindsay Kee, 615-320-7142

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today the House Criminal Justice Committee passed the bill targeting so-called “obscene” materials in public school libraries in a 13-3 vote.

As amended, SB 1944/HB 1944 would require that if a parent complains that a book is obscene, it must be removed from library shelves immediately, for at least 30 days. Current practice allows contested books to remain in place while they are reviewed.

Obscene content is narrowly defined under the law, including only materials that, based on community standards, appeal to the prurient interest, depict sexual conduct in a patently offensive way, and lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. Obscene content is already prohibited in schools under current law.

Hedy Weinberg, ACLU of Tennessee executive director:

“Politicians’ vote to censor books today is misguided, ill-advised and unnecessary. Obscene content is already prohibited in schools under the law, as it should be. Students deserve access to truthful, high-quality books in order to build critical thinking skills, understand current events, and learn the life skills necessary to navigate complex situations. This bill attacks our public schools, our libraries, and the staff who work so hard to educate our children and expand their knowledge. If this legislation passes, we will sue – and we believe we will win."