Libraries would have to restrict explicit titles or lose funding.
Editors note: HB 2158 did not pass into law (3/10/08)
Legislation passed by the House of Representatives late Wednesday would withhold public library funding if books containing sexually explicit or homosexual content are not placed in an adult-only section.
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House Bill 2158, by Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, would require public libraries in the state to segregate books recommended by a newly formed State Library Material Content Advisory Board, or risk losing state funding.
According to the bill, the books must contain specific and graphic sexual references, not just mention sex. Books containing homosexual themes must recruit and advocate same gender sexual relationships before separation is required by the legislation.
Supporters of the bill say parents should decide whether their children can have access to these books.
"Libraries and librarians should not be usurping the role of parents, Kern said. "You can't sell toothpaste without sex. Our society is obsessed with sex. And I will tell you this, the American Library Association is out to sexualize our children.
But, opponents, including the Oklahoma Library Association, say the legislation removes local control and will cost libraries especially rural libraries already-limited funds.
No appeals process
Many librarians also worry the bill is too subjective, and question the number of books that would have to be moved.
Rep. Glen Bud Smithson, D-Sallisaw, opposed the bill because it doesn't give libraries an appeals process to fight a loss of funding. He likened the bill to legislation Osama bin Laden likely would support, saying "that is the way they do it over there. They teach them what they want to teach them and nothing else.
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