HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The Senate Education Committee passed Senate Bill 7 on Wednesday, paving the way for a floor vote that could prohibit some Pennsylvania students from obtaining books deemed as “sexually explicit.”
“We believe Senate Bill 7 is a book ban, plain and simple,” Sharon Ward with the Education Law Center said.
A handful of local leaders, including Republican Senator Doug Mastriano – a co-sponsor of the bill – fired back.
“The gross mischaracterization that this is somehow a book ban is just so absurd I can’t even get my mind around it,” Mastriano said.
Emily Zimmerman, a parent and school board director in Lancaster County, supports Senate Bill 7 and said Tuesday that she’s outraged by some books, like “Gender Queer” found on school shelves.
“These profane sexual images and text seen and read are engraved in a young and impressionable mind with the potential of significant consequences,” Zimmerman said.
But there is major opposition, in part from the Education Law Center, which argues that parents already have control over what their child reads.
“The bill also explicitly permits school entities to remove books and materials preemptively,” Ward said.
The Pennsylvania Library Association noted that a government agency removing information could qualify as censorship.
“We do think that thoughtful conversation between parents and students and parents and school librarians, as well as adults talking to their library professionals, is worthwhile,” Pennsylvania Library Association Executive Director Christi Buker said.