SALINE COUNTY, Ark. – In a heated Saline County Quorum Court meeting Monday night, members voted in favor of a resolution to keep books deemed inappropriate out of kid’s hands in the county library.
The resolution deals with books that are said to be too sexual in nature for children due their content or imagery.
The issue faced quite a bit of controversy in the county, with people for and against the resolution lining up outside the courthouse more than an hour before the meeting even started just to get a spot inside. 53 citizens signed up for public comment, which was limited to a total of 75 minutes.
Those in favor said this resolution was a no-brainer because it keeps kids from looking at pornographic content that could significantly impact their well-being at such a young age.
Opposers argued that this is a power move for conservatives to ensure kids are not reading books that do not align with a certain agenda. Those against it pointed to LGBTQ+ or race-related books that they feel are targeted in the name of protecting children.
Sponsors and supporters said there is a lot of misinformation about what all will change through this resolution, like banning books or defunding the library.
Sponsors confirmed that is not the case and that the resolution will only relocate those books away from the children’s section into another part of the library.
Members also voted against an amendment to the resolution Monday night that would have allowed a parent or guardian to request a certain book for their kid that has been moved, which gives a little more leniency than the original resolution.
The resolution comes not long after a bill became law in the most recent legislative session. Act 372 amends the state code for endangering the welfare of a minor to include sexual material and remove protection for library employees.
The sponsors of that bill, Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Jonesboro) and Rep. Mary Bentley (R-Perryville) were in the meeting tonight.
Members acknowledged that the new law would have impacted their library with or without the resolution, but they hope this resolution will make it easier to follow that law.
One member of the Saline County Republican Woman, Angela Gray, said that she is the one who originally informed the court of books she had found in Saline County Library that she said were harmful to kids.
Gray said after she spoke to the court in two separate meetings, a few members wrote the resolution.
The resolution is said to go into full-force effect after its passage. The quorum court members noted Monday night that they will work with the library however needed as they begin making changes.