Do obscene and sexually explicit books ‘empower’ students?

A school board member in Eastern Carver County appears to think so.

When parents voiced concern to the Eastern Carver County School Board about obscene and sexually explicit books in school libraries intended for middle- and high-school students, board member Ellie Krug defended the books, stating access to them is “empowering” for students, wrote the Child Protection League. According to Krug,

If we want to empower our LGBTQ+ students, our students of color, we want to empower our students from marginalized communities, they NEED to be able to read about their history, they NEED to be able to go into the classroom or library in order to read about what it means for them in the history of America. And I am NEVER in favor of taking that away from them. If you don’t want a book in a library, don’t read it.

“Does Krug believe it’s ’empowering’ for kids to see and read about sexual activity which makes them vulnerable to sexual abuse, sex trafficking and emotional and physical harm?” continued CPL. “And since when was America’s ‘history’ defined by the sexual acts of the people?”

The problem of overtly obscene, pornographic, and sexually explicit books made available to students in school libraries is not unique to the Eastern Carver County school district. Or even to Minnesota. (Read my piece here.)

It’s baffling that protecting children from explicit material is controversial. America “has always restricted certain kinds of content, and the attendant freedom to engage with it, when it comes to children,” writes Nate Hochman in the National Review. “Why? Well, because we understand that some things — including some books — aren’t appropriate for children.” Consider, for example, warnings on music, television, and video games, and limited access to movies in theaters.

According to an October 2022 national poll published by Rasmussen Reports, 69 percent of voters “believe books containing explicit sexual depictions of sex acts…should not be present in public high school libraries.”

School libraries can — and should — make books available to students that reflect diverse viewpoints and stories, but this can — and should — be done without those stories involving sexually explicit content.