Jay Ashcroft, a potential candidate for Missouri governor, puts forward a motion to ban a library book

Jefferson City – Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, the likely candidate for governor in 2024, has entered into a Republican-led controversy over banning the books.

Ashcroft, a Republican, has introduced a proposed rule change that would place an accreditation requirement for libraries that receive state funds and put in place measures to protect minors from what he calls “age inappropriate material.”

Under the plan, public libraries will have to adopt policies to select materials appropriate for certain ages. The proposed rule states that state funds cannot be used to purchase or obtain inappropriate items in any way that appeals to the ‘primary interest of the minor’.

The proposal reflects its continuity Controversy in public schools About the recent book ban in public school libraries.

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At least 114 book bans were enacted in schools across St. Louis this fall in response to a new state law sponsored by the Republican Party that bans “sexually explicit material” — defined as any visual depiction of sexual acts or the genitals, with exceptions Technical or Scientific Importance – Offered to students in public or private schools.

Kirkwood managers, for example, 14 books were banned in response By law, it ranks third in any school district in St. Louis County after Rockwood and Lindbergh. Eight district school districts have not changed their library collections. Neighboring Webster Groves School has banned 11 books, including several crossovers on the Kirkwood List, such as the graphic novel version of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Ashcroft, a second-term Republican whose duties include being a state librarian, admitted that his plan was part of an effort by the Republican Party to address “rampant” cultural issues.

“Supporting the efforts of libraries in our state has been a priority of mine since day one — we have been able to provide millions of dollars to libraries through grants and other funding,” Ashcroft said. “Yes, we want to make sure that libraries have the resources and materials they need for their constituents, but we also want our children to be ‘kids’ for a little longer than often dictated by mainstream culture.”

Ashcroft, son of former US Attorney John Ashcroft, is Consider bidding for governor in 2024 against fellow Republican Lieutenant Mike Kehoe. Also eyeing the race is Senator Bill Eagle, R. Weldon Spring, who is expected to try to run to the right of both statewide officials.

The Missouri Library Association, which represents local public libraries, had no immediate comment on the proposal.

But the organization Recently issued a statement In response to the state’s new law as part of its “Banned Book Week” celebration in September.

“Librarians don’t shrink violets, so don’t let our wool jackets and thick-brimmed glasses fool you. None of us want to be arrested for doing our jobs, but we won’t sacrifice our moral and ethical principles just because we’re threatened,” the statement said.

According to the American Library Association, the number of book bans across the country this school year is on track to hit a record high last year. The rise comes amid a culture war over how educators should know about race, gender, and sexuality.

Under Ashcroft’s plan, libraries will also be required to respect a parent’s decision regarding the materials their child can access in the library. Parents also have the right to challenge the library’s age-appropriate classification of any material.

“When it comes to state dollars, we want to restore local control and parental involvement in determining what children are exposed to,” Ashcroft said. “Above all else, we want to protect our children.”

There are 159 library districts in Missouri. In 2022, it is estimated that 3.3 million Missouri residents have library cards. The latest available figures show that cardholders checked 39.9 million items of material from libraries last year, ranging from books to Internet hotspots.

Ashcroft Budget request for the fiscal year starting next Julyy shows that he wants $4.5 million to be distributed to libraries that receive the money on a per capita basis.

Most funding for libraries comes from local property taxes. The federal government also helps fund local library facilities.

The proposed rule is in a review period that will run until December 15.

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