MASL Testifies for Intellectual Freedom
MASL members descended upon Augusta on May 4 in force! Many librarians testified against LD 123, “An Act to Prohibit the Dissemination of Obscene Matter to Minors in Public Schools,” LD 1008, “An Act to Establish a Rating System for Books in School Libraries,” and LD 618, "An Act to Eliminate Critical Race Theory, Social and Emotional Learning and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion from School Curricula.” Pictured here with the banner that was created for us by the Artists’ Rapid Response Team in protest of LD 123 are just three of the many supporters that were in the hearing room. We heard not just from MASL members, but also from our allies in organizations including the MLA, MEA, MCELA, Maine ACLU, MPA, and Educate Maine. Many more MASL members submitted written testimony that the legislators will read.
Supporters of the bills claimed that they were not interested in banning books, only “screening” them, and maligned LGBTQ people and supporters while at the same time claiming not to be targeting those identities. Opponents of the bills, including MASL, reminded legislators that policies exist in every local school district that allow parents to object to individual books and curriculum topics. We also heard many people, including some high school students from Gardiner and Cumberland, speak against the bills and in favor of protecting the diversity of library collections and curriculum so that all Maine students feel welcome and supported in their schools.
You can watch the hearing here (although it was about 5 hours long) and read coverage of it here and here. The bills are still in the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee, they will be considered in a Work Session (which will also be livestreamed and recorded) and then the members of the committee will vote on whether the bills ought to pass out of committee to the Legislature.
We are so grateful to those of you who have already spoken up about this legislation. It means so much to our students and your colleagues—especially the ones who are currently suffering through challenges, doxing, and harassment—to know that they have your support. We encourage you to continue to follow news of the bills’ progress and to contact your state senator and representative to let them know how you feel about such legislation.
At the hearing on May 4, we distributed these stickers to opponents of the bills to wear, so it was clear how many intellectual freedom supporters were in the hearing room audience!