labor Louisiana Launches Tip Line To Accuse Librarians of ‘Sexualizing Children’
On Tuesday, the attorney general of Louisiana launched an online form encouraging residents of the state to report librarians who they suspect of stocking sexually explicit books—or anything else they might object to being seen by their kids.
The reporting form was created as part of a failed investigation by Attorney General Jeff Landry that aims to find any books on library shelves that violate Louisiana statutes. The investigation hasn’t turned up any illegal material, but rather than admit defeat, Landry is pandering to conservative parents’ worst nightmares by soliciting tips from the public to unveil what he describes as “the taxpayer-subsidized sexualization of children.”
The form also allows members of the public to snitch on teachers, school board members, district superintendents, and library supervisors as well.
“Librarians and teachers are neither empowering nor liberating our children by connecting them with books that contain extremely graphic sexual content that is far from age appropriate for young audiences,” reads a page on Landry’s website titled “Protect Minors,” which includes the form.
The campaign is part of a recent conservative movement that has targeted schools and public libraries that stock children’s books containing LGBTQ themes and situations. Last summer, a candidate who later won her election for district attorney in Tennessee flirted with the idea of prosecuting librarians for the books on their shelves at a meeting with supporters of the conservative group Moms for Liberty.
In a recent op-ed, Landry justified the investigation by describing the books he objects to as “pornography” that is “thinly disguised as educational material for children.” A similar justification has been used across the US to ban books intended for LGTBQ young adults, several of which are now the most frequently banned titles in the country.
“A policy that turns neighbors into Stasi-era informants, reporting on their child’s school librarian, should terrify everyone,” Lynette Meija, co-founder of the activist group Lafayette Citizens Against Censorship said in a statement. “Our educational professionals work incredibly hard every day to ensure the safety of our kids.”
Louisiana isn’t the first to set its sights on libraries. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has instructed the public to report parents with trans children as child abusers, and has also directed Texans to email him personally with tips on school librarians. Other political figures have set up similar reporting lines that either go virtually unused, like in the case of Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin’s “critical race theory” tip line, or get spammed and pranked-called out of existence, like with Donald Trump’s voter fraud hotline in 2020.
Some librarians say they are going for a third option: flood the form with accolades for librarians and teachers and report their harassers to the state.
“Louisiana has so many actual problems like poverty and an opioid crisis, but Attorney General Jeff Landry chooses to focus on the nonexistent issue of supposed pornography in schools and libraries,” Amanda Jones, a 2021 School Librarian of the Year awardee based in Louisiana, told Motherboard.
Jones is currently suing two people for damages and injunctive relief after being harassed online over comments she gave during a Livingston Parish Library board meeting in July.
“What a disappointment that instead of championing educators, he chooses to use them as political pawns to pander for votes,” Jones added. “Educators and librarians are not giving children pornography.”