Parents should control library choices of kids, not lawmakers

While Ohio libraries face a potential funding crisis due to an expected shortfall in property tax revenue, some members of the state House of Representatives want to twist the knife.

State Rep. Al Cutrona, R-Canfield, has introduced House Bill 622, “to require each board of public library trustees to adopt a policy that prohibits its libraries from displaying matter harmful to juveniles and to redistribute the public library funds of libraries that fail to do so.”

While Cutrona is just looking to conceal questionable material by placing it behind blinder racks or similar devices that cover at least two-thirds of the material, wrap the items, place them behind a circulation counter or place them where they are not open to the view of minors, it’s still horrifying.

“The amount of calls I’ve received from my constituents for the past year, year and a half, concerned with materials at eye level that are accessible to young people is great,” Cutrona told our reporter recently.

Cutrona also told News 5 Cleveland’s Morgan Trau that, “What this accomplishes is protecting our youth, protecting our children and allowing them to go to a safe place where parents are not concerned (about) what materials they are going to come in contact with.”

As has become painfully obvious in recent years, what many of these politicians mean when they say “protecting our children” is “making sure they learn as little as possible about the world they live in.”

Surely, other lawmakers will understand the dangers in passing a bill that leaves it up to … who, exactly? … to determine what is “harmful” to juveniles.

The “harmful to juveniles” definition in Ohio law, updated April 4, 2023, is “any material or performance describing or representing nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement or sado-masochistic abuse in any form.” That includes material that “is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community as a whole with respect to what is suitable for juveniles,” and “lacks serious literary, artistic, political and scientific value for juveniles.”

However, who gets to determine whether nudity when found in a picture book that includes fine art such as Michelangelo’s “David,” or when described in a narrative of the Holocaust is “harmful to juveniles?”

“I’m not looking to charge anyone with a crime,” Cutrona told our reporter. “No one is saying they can’t have this material. They just can’t have it on display in front of children or let them borrow it without parental consent. If a library wants to go in a different direction, they can’t receive our tax dollars.”

Lawmakers can’t allow this bizarre attempt to wrest control away from parents and local library boards to gain ground. A library shouldn’t be a place of fear, or worry that the government will find out you are learning too much to its liking.

Of course parents who are concerned should keep an eye on what their minor children are checking out from the library, or what they are looking at while they are there.

They should also allow their children to ask questions about books that perhaps parents ask them to save for later.

But that responsibility falls purely on the shoulders of parents and guardians, not on Cutrona or anyone else with an agenda in Columbus.



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