Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) has launched an online form encouraging state residents to report the “taxpayer-subsided sexualization of children” by librarians, their supervisors, teachers, school board members, and district superintendents.
“Librarians and teachers are neither empowering nor liberating our children by connecting them with books that contain extremely graphic sexual content that is far from age appropriate for young audiences,” the form, entitled “Protect Minors,” reads.
“If this type of taxpayer-subsided sexualization of children has impacted you or your family, tell us about it.”
Landry, who recently launched a bid for governor, has a history of anti-LGBTQ+ policy positions. He supported a state version of Florida’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay” law and opposed the Biden administration’s interpretation of Title IX which prohibited anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination in schools and elsewhere.
Now, Landry is following a political attack strategy successfully used to help win elections for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R). The attack involves outraging and mobilizing voters against a bogeyman of LGBTQ+ teachers and allies who they allege threaten the innocence of school children. These attacks have led conservative parents to angrily confront school board members, issue threats against educators, and interfere with educators’ abilities to actually teach children anything.
Similar attacks by Republican politicians, conservative school boards, and so-called “parents’ rights” groups have dramatically escalated attempts to ban “controversial” books from school. The attacks accuse LGBTQ+-inclusive and anti-racist school content of being a “woke” form of “indoctrination” that’s “inappropriate” for and “sexualizes kids.”
In actuality, most of the LGBTQ+ books targeted by these groups contain content that isn’t sexually explicit. The free-speech organization PEN America said the true goal of these book bans is to eliminate any student discussions around sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Those who are advocating on this issue are within their rights, their freedom of assembly, mobilization, using their voices…But when the end goal is censorship, as a free expression organization, it’s our obligation to call that out and to point out that even the use of legitimate tactics of expression can sometimes lead to a spurious and speech-defeating result,” Suzanne Nossel, chief executive officer of PEN America, said in a statement criticizing the book bans.
Lynette Meija, co-founder of the activist group Lafayette Citizens Against Censorship, criticized Landry’s online reporting form in a statement.
“A policy that turns neighbors into Stasi-era informants, reporting on their child’s school librarian, should terrify everyone,” Meija wrote, referencing the East Germany secret police who used Nazi methods to create a fearful atmosphere in which citizens reported one another for allegedly trying to undermine government power.
“Our educational professionals work incredibly hard every day to ensure the safety of our kids,” Meija added, according to Vice News.
Amanda Jones, a 2021 School Librarian of the Year awardee who lives in Louisiana, told the publication, “Louisiana has so many actual problems like poverty and an opioid crisis, but Attorney General Jeff Landry chooses to focus on the nonexistent issue of supposed pornography in schools and libraries…Educators and librarians are not giving children pornography.”