US Appeals Court Hears Arguments Over Law Keeping Some Books Out Of School Libraries

Des Moines, Iowa — A US Appeals Court heard arguments on Tuesday for lifting the injunction against a state law that prevents some books from being in school libraries, and prohibits curriculum about gender identity and sexual orientation through sixth grade.

The state argues the law keeps sexually explicit books out of schools and inappropriate lessons out of school curriculums. The Iowa State Education Association teacher union is one of the groups that seeks to block the law, saying it is unconstitutional. ISEA attorney, Christy Hickman, says it is too vague for schools and school boards to interpret.

Hickman says the penalties for violating the law have made teachers hesitant to take action.

One of the judges asked why they should act if the book was available through other sources outside the school.

A judge also questioned why the law should be declared unconstitutional and where it was a better tactic to sue individual schools over the issue. Hickman says the law has already had an impact with reports that thousands of more books than needed being removed from school libraries.

Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird issued a statement after the arguments that says, inappropriate books do not belong in the hands of school children and “they made the case in court to defend Iowa’s law that protects kids, families, and parental rights. It is common sense.”