Alabama GOP Seek to Hold Librarians Accountable

( – Several Republican-led states have recently enacted new laws protecting children from exposure to inappropriate materials and conduct involving gender identity. The Alabama GOP recently took steps seeking to hold librarians accountable for leaving certain materials on the shelf in view of underaged kids.

On April 25, the Alabama House of Representatives passed AL HB385 along partisan lines by a margin of 72 to 28. All 28 of the chamber’s Democrats voted against the measure.

Under current Alabama law, the use of any property to distribute material to minors considered obscene is considered a public nuisance and is designated as a crime. HB385 aims to amend portions of the Code of Alabama 1975 to apply its obscenity laws to public libraries, public school libraries, and, in some instances — to their respective agents and employees.

HB385 also seeks to ban drag queen story hours/readings and other similar events promoting the LGBTQ+ lifestyle. Lawmakers added a component, subsection (c), to §13A-12-200.1(22) defining prohibited “sexual conduct.”

The proposed revision bans any obscene or “gender-oriented conduct” that exposes minors to “exaggerated or provocative clothing.” The amendment also bars “presentations, or activities in K-12 schools [and] public libraries” that underaged children are expected or known to frequent “without parental presence or consent.”

HB385 doesn’t alter the portion of §13A-12-200.10 that exempts college and university libraries from criminal prosecution. Under that section, they can provide gender-based materials and offer presentations and activities “for legitimate educational purposes.”

Alabama House Republicans set changes to become effective on October 1, provided the GOP-led Senate passes the measure and Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signs it into law. A violation is a Class C misdemeanor. The second infraction raises the crime to a Class B, and the third or subsequent breaches raise the crime to a Class A misdemeanor.

Craig Scott, the head of the Alabama Library Association, accused lawmakers of thinking “they can come in and run [libraries] better than… professionals.” He also predicted that Alabama would lose “lawsuit after lawsuit” if HB385 becomes law.

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