Kansas Teachers Open To Prosecution for Teaching Toni Morrison and Other “Harmful Material”?

Rachel Smalter Hall

Staff Writer

Rachel Smalter Hall may be a professional Book Rioter, but she still hangs out in the public librarian clubhouse. Two of her top three loves include audiobooks and knitting, and her favorite song is Cold Hearted Snake as performed by Alyssa Edwards and Coco Montrese on season 5 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. She co-runs a boozy book club in Lawrence, Kansas, in her spare time. Twitter: @rach_smalls Website: Rachel Smalter Hall

Banned bookOn February 25, 2015, the Kansas Senate* passed a bill allowing teachers to be prosecuted for distributing materials deemed harmful to minors.

The bill was originally drafted in response to a sex-ed poster that was posted in a middle school classroom in the Kansas City suburbs of Johnson County.

Supporters say that Senate Bill 56, which passed 26-14, will be used to protect kids from pornography at school and will not be used to interfere with teaching works of literary or scientific value. However, days before the bill passed, Rep. Joseph Scapa (R, Wichita) accused a book by Toni Morrison of being pornographic.

This is a nightmare come true for many Kansas educators and advocates of intellectual freedom. Teachers and school librarians who make available books and materials about sex education, sexual harassment, same-sex relationships, and just being a normal adolescent human, may now be subject to criminal prosecution. Any book that deals with controversial themes could be challenged on the grounds that it contains pornographic or harmful material.

It’s official: censorship is alive and well in Kansas.


*Editor’s Note: “Legislators” was changed here to “Senate” to clarify where the bill is in the law-making process. The wording of the headline was also changed for the same reason.


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