Louisiana AG bid for governor raises ‘great concern’ about future pushes on book bans and censorship – The Hill

history at a glance

  • Louisiana Association of School Librarians President Amanda Jones is concerned about the way the attorney general is accusing librarians and teachers of “selling dirt” to children.

  • Landry announced that he is running for governor of Louisiana in October.

  • Shortly after announcing his offer, Landry published an opinion piece accusing librarians and teachers of selling “graphic sexual content” to children.

Louisiana Association of School Librarians President Amanda Jones is concerned about the future of censorship in her state, especially if current Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) wins his run for governor.

Landry, a conservative Republican who supports former President Trump, announced in October that he is running to fill the seat of acting governor John Bel Edwards (D) in 2023.

More Republicans are expected to enter the race, which is billed as one of the most anticipated elections in the country next year. But so far, Landry is the only candidate vying for Edward’s post.

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As attorney general, Landry has clashed with Edwards and pushed conservative policies on issues like the death penalty, COVID-19 vaccines and LGBTQ rights.

Jones fears that as governor, Landry will adopt extremely conservative policies about which books can be used in classrooms and libraries.

“If he becomes governor, I think there’s a lot of concern that he’ll push for censorship and book ban laws and encourage other groups to stir up riots in public libraries,” Jones told The Hill.

“At a time when educators need support more than ever and librarians need support more than ever, he’s doing the exact opposite,” she added.

Just days before announcing his candidacy for governor, Landry published an opinion piece in The Gonzalez Weekly Citizen titled “Why Do Taxpayers Subsidize Child Sexualization?”

In the piece, Landry accused teachers and librarians across the state of selling children “dirt” and associating them with “extremely graphic sexual content.”

“I have struggled to find the right words to describe the new books now being circulated in the children’s sections of our public libraries and public schools; but I, too, recognize pornography when I see it, even if it’s thinly disguised as educational material for children,” Landry said in the article.

“Librarians and teachers neither empower nor emancipate our children by associating them with books that contain extremely graphic sexual content that is far from age-appropriate for young audiences.”

Like many other “red” states, Louisiana’s book bans have increased over the past two years, mostly under the guise of protecting children from sexual content.

While book bans are nothing new in the United States, the tactics behind the bans and their politicized nature are unique to the current wave of censorship.

And the targets of the bans are mostly books that touch the lives of members of the LGBQT community or people of color, according to an analysis by PEN America.

Louisiana currently has no state legislation banning books, but the new politicized wave of book bans has reached the state through other channels, including recently in the communities of Lafayette and Livingston.

Earlier this year, after Conservatives took over the Lafayette Parish Library Board, members gave themselves the power to ban books.

In August, Livingston Council voted to restrict children’s access to certain books in the public library that had to do with sex or sexual orientation, among other things. Some community members, including Jones, opposed the measure.

Jones received a spate of online harassment and even death threats for speaking out against board efforts to limit access to books.

Landry’s office has not responded to a request for comment from The Hill.