Proposed North Dakota law bans ‘explicit sexual material’ from public libraries, librarians could see jail time

A proposed law in North Dakota would ban public libraries “from maintaining sexually explicit books” on their shelves, including books that contain pictures of “human masturbation,” “deviant sexual intercourse,” or images of “sexual identity” or “gender identity.”

Librarians who violate the law could face 30 days in jail, NBC News reports.

The GOP-led state House Judiciary Committee began hearing arguments on House Bill 1205 on Tuesday but has not yet voted on the measure.

It’s the latest in a nationwide push from Republicans to rid schools of sexually explicit LGBTQ books, but as NBC notes, this ban is aimed not at public schools but at public libraries — a slope that even some conservatives might find a bit too slippery for comfort.

While the bill makes exceptions for “works of art” with “serious artistic significance” and “works of anthropological significance, or materials used in science courses, including materials used in biology, anatomy, physiology, or sexual education classes,” its broad definition of “sexually explicit” materials to include anything with pictures of such subjective things as “sexual perversion” and “sexual preferences” could eliminate from the shelves every romance novel ever written — unless, of course, the state does not believe same-sex couples embracing in various states of undress amounts to a declaration of a sexual preference.

Also on the list of books to ban are those with “any pictorial, three-dimensional, or visual depiction, including any photography, picture, or computer-generated image, showing”: sexual activity, sex-based classifications, postpubertal human genitals, and the direct physical stimulation of genitals.

Supporters of the sweeping measure argue that it would reduce children’s exposure to pornography and preserve their innocence.

The bill was introduced by House Majority Leader Mike Lefor, of Dickinson, who argued that public libraries are riddled with “disturbing and disgusting” content, “including ones that describe virginity as a silly label and assert that gender is fluid,” according to NBC News.

The outlet continues:

Lefor argued that a child’s exposure to such content has been associated with addiction, poor self esteem, devalued intimacy, increasing divorce rates, unprotected sex among young people and poor well-being — though did he did not offer any evidence to support such claims.

Stark County resident Autumn Richard also spoke in favor of the bill, giving examples of explicit content in the graphic novel “Let’s Talk About It: The Teen’s Guide to Sex, Relationships, and Being a Human” and the kids’ comic book “Sex Is a Funny Word” — both available in public libraries.

Richard argued the books might have beneficial knowledge about contraceptives, body image and abusive relationships, but many sections provide information that she said was harmful for minors.


It’s a hard and, frankly, predictable swing of the social pendulum following an unrelenting effort by liberals to push woke ideology on school children.

This, it could be argued, is what happens when you insist on subjecting students — some as young as kindergarten — to drag queens and “Gender Queer.”

Opponents of House Bill 1205 argue that many of the books slated for banning contain content that is not legally defined as “obscene.”

Cody Schuler, an advocacy manager at the American Civil Liberties Union of North Dakota, testified against the bill and noted that the Supreme Court has already weighed in on the matter.

“Nearly 50 years ago, the (U.S.) Supreme Court set the high constitutional bar that defines obscenity,” he said.

In fact, the Supreme Court, in 1957, defined obscenity as “such material which to the average person, applying contemporary community standard, appealed to prurient interests and lacked redeeming social value,” according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

In 1966, the high court reworded the 1957 definition, adding a third standard, “namely, that the material must also be patently offensive.”

It is an important legal distinction, as obscenity falls under a classification that is not considered to be constitutionally protected speech, and as Schuler noted, it does not include any work with literary, artistic, political, or scientific value — thus, few books have ever been hit with the “obscenity” label.

The standard for preventing a library from distributing a book, Shuler added, is even more stringent.

Under the bill, prosecutors could charge anyone who displays the prohibited materials with a class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days behind bars and a $1,500 fine.


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