It’s not just about banned books; they are constitutional rights.
Forsyth, unassumingly, is being legally criticized for barring members of the Mama Bears parent advocacy group from attending county school board meetings until she promises in writing to abide by the rules.
Reason for the ban? Reading an excerpt from a book in their library.
In January of this year, Forsyth County Superintendent Dr. Jeff Bearden received a message from a parent concerned about sexual content in media provided by the school. Bearden assigned school staff to review the district catalog for explicit content.
Staff offered 15 potentially self-explanatory books and pulled eight titles from all schools earlier this year. County high schools were given the option to reintroduce 7 of the eight after a second review by community volunteers.
However, a step in the right direction but not enough for some parents like those who make up Forsyth County’s Mama Bears. The group has challenged over 100 titles.
The challenges, defined by the American Library Association as an attempt to remove or restrict books based on an individual or group’s objections, continued to escalate in March.
According to the ALA, 681 books were disputed in 2022, down from 729 last year. However, there has been a 149% increase in disputes between 2022 and 2020. These figures are based on public records, news and advice.
Books can be challenged for many reasons, including violence, racism, and religious affiliations. 5 of the 10 most banned books of the last year were flagged as having LGBTQ+ content. Seven of the ten were flagged for sexually explicit content.
Mama Bear Alison Hair was banned from public school board meetings ahead of ‘sexually explicit’ books she found in her son’s school library.
After receiving two letters preventing her from attending the meeting, Hair took the case to federal court represented by the Institute for Free Speech.
In 1982, Board of Education v. Pico concluded that libraries are places of “voluntary inquiry” and concluded that the school board’s “absolute discretion” over the classroom did not extend to the library for this reason.
The Forsyth County bear mamas make it clear that it’s not about the books anymore; it’s about freedom of speech and the right to be heard by the government.
“This lawsuit does not try to resolve the question of which books should be available in school libraries, but rather tackles illegal attempts to clean up the way parents talk about these books in the presence of elected officials and officials. ‘other adults.’
The book ban has been on Georgia’s radar for some time.
“I think that’s something people back home should know you know, we’re going to be very thoughtful about it and we’re talking to everyone involved,” Governor Kemp said after touring Forsyth Schools. amid controversy over the January book ban.
In April, Governor Kemp signed into law Senate Bill 226, expediting the book review and banning process.
This bill limits those who can challenge books in Georgia school systems to only parents and legal guardians. It also takes seven days to decide whether or not to prohibit work, ten days to notify the complainant and 30 days for the appeals to be discussed by the school boards.
Only time will allow us to see the effects of the discourse and decisions surrounding First Amendment rights in the Georgian school system.