The latest legislative move from North Carolina Republicans could reshape the contours of education and introduce a new adversary to parental power: librarians. Yes, you read that right, librarians!
Recently, the GOP introduced Senate Bill 90, a piece of legislation that has the potential to amplify parental control over their children’s education, potentially leading to faculty members, including librarians, being dismissed and even prosecuted.
The crux of this bill revolves around the so-called “fundamental right to parent.” SB 90 frames this right as a parent’s liberty to guide the upbringing, education, healthcare, and mental health of their child. Should a parent perceive this right to be violated, they could appeal to local school boards and even superior courts. A victory for such plaintiffs could translate to a minimum of $5,000 in damages, plus attorneys’ fees.
The legislation doesn’t stop there. Public libraries would be required to share information with parents about the books their children checked out. Additionally, libraries would be tasked with maintaining age-restricted sections to keep ‘material harmful to minors’ under check. Here’s where it gets gnarly: librarians could face prosecution for violating this provision.
But it’s not just the librarians under fire; transgender students also find themselves in the bill’s crosshairs. A particularly chilling clause of the bill would require school personnel to inform parents if they believe the child is at risk of suicide or self-identifies as a gender different from their biological sex. It’s important to remember the crucial role of privacy and respect in the development of young people, especially those grappling with gender identity issues.
Unsurprisingly, Democrats are voicing their opposition to SB 90. State Representative Julie von Haefen has called it out as a “license for book-banning committees to run rampant.” Indeed, this might very well open the floodgates for parent groups to push for superintendents’ dismissal.
So, as the debate rages on, it’s vital for us, especially the millennial and Gen Z crowd, to stand up for equality, empathy, and, yes, the librarians who may soon find themselves in the hot seat. After all, our beloved librarians should be helping children discover the joy of reading, not worrying about legal proceedings.