Book banning protesters speak out before West Ada board meeting

West Ada removed 10 books from its shelves in December. The district is considering additional removals but those decisions are on hold until a bill comes out of the Legislature. (Photo Darren Svan/EdNews)

A group of protesters reminded West Ada school trustees Monday night that there is vocal opposition to the removal of books from the district’s libraries.

“Stop banning books!” said Mary Mosley, a member of the SW Idaho National Organization for Women (NOW).

Ten members of NOW held up protest signs along the roadway in front of West Ada’s administration building in Meridian, chiding school leaders for banning books like “A Stolen Life” by Jaycee Dugard and “Empire of Storms” by Sarah J. Maas.

“I just don’t think that’s right. Furthermore, banning books is un-American,” Mosley said, offering an occasional wave to a honking motorist.

In December, 10 books were pulled from West Ada library shelves after a private meeting among administrators. A district spokesperson said the removal of explicit and graphic content was done with thoughtful consideration.

According to emails obtained by EdNews, the district is considering the removal of 44 books but the issue was not included in Monday’s board agenda.

We are on hold until we hear about legislation, specifically HB 384.  If or when that passes, I might have more information but we are in a complete holding pattern right now, especially since the bill has changed so many times while in legislation,” Niki Scheppers, chief of staff for West Ada, wrote in a statement.

A Stolen Life was removed from libraries.

Lawmakers advanced the latest library bill on Monday. Senate Bill 1289 would create a standardized, statewide process for addressing library book challenges. School districts and public library boards would have to create a committee that reviews formal book challenges in public hearings before issuing a written decision on whether it will remove or relocate the material. The bill also would allow for uncapped civil damages if the committee finds the material in question is “harmful to minors” or library officials failed to take “reasonable steps” keeping “obscene” material out of children’s hands. 

“I think it’s abominable. There’s no need for that bill,” Mosley said. “It’s got some bad stuff in it.”

Mosley’s organization doesn’t like the possibility of library’s facing monetary fines. If a single library faced multiple $250 fines, that could be a significant drain on resources and a “terrible idea.”

“Kids have Constitutional rights, as well as adults. And they have a right to read,” Mosley said.

Darren Svan

Darren Svan

Reporter Darren Svan has a background in both journalism and education. Prior to working for military schools at overseas installations, he was news editor at several publications in Wyoming and Colorado. You can send news tips to [email protected].

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