Senator Cloud Announces Legislation that Protects Children from Explicit Content in Libraries
Published 5:00 pm Wednesday, February 8, 2023
State Senator Heather Cloud, R-Ville Platte, has drafted legislation to limit access to explicit content accessible to minors. Yesterday morning, Attorney General Jeff Landry released the “Protecting Innocence” report, which explains the access children currently have to materials that are far from age-appropriate. The report further provides potential solutions for public libraries, concerned parents, and lawmakers.
According to the Attorney General’s report, while parents and guardians have the right and responsibility to guide and direct their children’s reading, listening, and viewing choices, they depend on the collections curated by public libraries. Furthermore, libraries should not allow unrestricted access to sexually explicit materials in collections available to minors.
“Libraries should adopt and implement policies that will protect children from accessing sexually explicit materials from collections intended for children, educate parents on digital content sources that may contain sexually explicit materials, and create a library card system that allows parents or guardians to choose whether a minor can check-out sexually explicit materials physically available in the library.”
On the topic, Senator Cloud said, “This is a step toward protecting our children. By allowing minors access to inappropriate content and materials, we are opening the door for them to be negatively affected by the content they find, whether purposefully or accidentally. Concerned parents want to know that they can trust public libraries, and we are doing our part to put the necessary tools in place for libraries to provide that trusting and protected environment.”
The pre-filed legislation by Senator Cloud for the 2023 Regular Legislative Session, if adopted, would mandate that all libraries establish, develop and institute a policy to limit the access of minors to sexually explicit materials. At a minimum, it requires consideration of community standards when acquiring library materials through donation or purchase, creates a system that allows parents and guardians to choose a library card that indicates whether the minor is permitted to check out sexually explicit materials or collections that contain sexually explicit materials physically available in the library, and would require a description of the digital content sources available to minors, including whether the digital content source restricts sexually explicit materials.
The guide provided for the model policy provides penalties for failure to comply with the law that, includes withheld payments owed to the library by the governing authority and prohibiting the Bond Commission from considering an application to incur debt by the library.