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Alabama Public Library Service votes to create a list of inappropriate books for kids

Florida’s Education Department released a similar list of books removed from school libraries across the state last month.

The Alabama Public Library Service will issue a list of books that it considers inappropriate for children.

Its seven-member board voted unanimously Wednesday in favor of the proposal to create such a list with the goal of protecting kids.

“Parents still have access to it if they want to buy this for their children,” John Wahl, a board member and the chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, told WSFA-TV, a local NBC affiliate in Montgomery. “But we don’t want to have it in libraries where innocent children can stumble upon it.”

While the list has not yet been created, the move comes amid a nationwide debate over whether children should have access to books and coursework that contain topics on LGBTQ identities or race.?

Ryan Godfrey, a spokesperson for the Alabama Public Library Service,? said in a phone call that the board decided to create the list after an uptick in complaints about sexually explicit content in library books over the last several months. Hey noted that some of the titles being challenged have LGBTQ themes.?

The list will be curated following submissions from the public and will be available on the library service’s website. The library service will review all submissions and decide which of the challenged books will be added to the list, he said. A timeline for when the list would be published has not yet been released.?

Opponents of the upcoming list predicted that many of the books on the list will contain LGBTQ content.

Lauren Boone, a member of Read Freely Alabama, a nonprofit group for free speech, told WSFA that while the list is being marketed as something that will protect children, “underneath it’s anti-LGBTQ+”

Hannah Rees, with Clean Up Alabama, one of the groups that advocated for the list, pushed back on Boone’s argument.

“This has nothing to do with the LGBTQ community specifically,” she told WSFA. “This has to do with sexually explicit content and radical ideologies that are being promoted to our young children.”

Godfrey noted that the Alabama Public Library Service does not have the authority to ban or request certain books to be removed from state libraries shelves.?

“It’s really supposed to be an informational list and guide for public librarians to use in deciding what books to purchase for the libraries and what books for maybe them to consider moving or shelving in another location,” he said. “It’s not intended to censor or remove books in any kind of way.”

Alabama is not alone in putting increased attention on what books may or may not be appropriate for minors.?

Last year, for example, the American Library Association recorded the highest number of attempted book bans nationwide since it began tracking such book challenges in 2001. More than half of the 13 books on the group’s “Most Challenged Books” list last year, including three of the top four, were challenged for having LGBTQ themes.?

Last month, Florida’s Education Department released a list of about 300 books that school districts across the state removed from library shelves last school year. Dozens of the removed books contain LGBTQ themes or characters or topics on race.

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