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Parents Can Review School Materials in Libraries

This information is provided by the Office of 28th District State Sen. and MD Joey Hensley R-Hohenwald, who represents Giles and five other counties.

Passed by the General Assembly this year and in effect is the Age-Appropriateness Materials Act of 2022.

This important legislation enhances transparency and oversight of books and other materials in school libraries and ensures those materials are appropriate for age and maturity levels of students.

The legislation has received considerable media attention, and there have been numerous false or misleading claims about it. I’d like to summarize what the bill does and doesn’t do and explain why I think it’s needed.

The bill came about in response to widespread concern among Tennessee parents that certain materials in school libraries are obscene or inappropriate for certain ages.

I’ve reviewed some materials, and in many cases agree with the concerned parents.

For whatever reason, some inappropriate materials containing explicit content have made their way into school libraries, and corrective measures were needed.

The Age-Appropriateness Materials Act of 2022 requires public schools to maintain a list of materials in their libraries and post that list on the school’s website.

That includes books, films, applications and other content. Prior to the passage of this legislation, many school districts already posted such a list and doing so is widely acknowledged to be a best practice.

The bill also requires each school district to adopt a policy for developing and reviewing school library collections.

That policy must include a system to periodically review library collections, and a procedure for the district to receive and evaluate feedback from parents, students and faculty about library materials.

If material is determined to be inappropriate, then it will be removed from the library collection. It’s ultimately up to each local board of education and public charter school governing body to determine what is appropriate in their community.

Prior to this legislation, classroom textbooks and instructional materials used in Tennessee public schools were and continue to be vetted for age appropriateness and standards alignment through the textbook review, approval and adoption process.

But there was no standardized process for the review of materials in public school libraries.

This legislation does not ban books nor does it compel any school to ban any book.

Instead it establishes a collaborative process that is determined by each district for parents and other stakeholders to voice concerns and weigh in on the content available in schools. Parents have every right to know and influence the materials in their child’s school library.

School should be a safe, productive space for learning, and students should not be exposed to obscene or inappropriate materials meant for much older audiences or that are inconsistent with the educational mission of the school.

This bill simply ensures school materials are age-appropriate through simple and common-sense processes that I believe address valid concerns of countless Tennessee parents.

Hensley may be contacted at 425 Rep. John Lewis Way N., Suite 742, Nashville TN, 37243. His telephone number is 615-741-3100, his toll free number is 1-800-449-8366 ext. 13100, and his fax number is 615-253-0231.

His district address is 855 Summertown Highway, Hohenwald, TN.,38462. His telephone number is 931-796-2018, his cell phone number is 931-212-8823, his E-Mail is: sen.joey.hensley@capitol.tn.gov

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