Books are bad, says Alabama lawmaker

Gay book ban goal of state lawmaker [via Bookslut blog]

MONTGOMERY – An Alabama lawmaker who sought to ban gay marriages now wants to ban novels with gay characters from public libraries, including university libraries. [Emphasis added.]

A bill by Rep. Gerald Allen, R-Cottondale, would prohibit the use of public funds for “the purchase of textbooks or library materials that recognize or promote homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle.” Allen said he filed the bill to protect children from the “homosexual agenda.”

The bill also would ban materials that recognize or promote a lifestyle or actions prohibited by the sodomy and sexual misconduct laws of Alabama. Allen said that meant books with heterosexual couples committing those acts likely would be banned, too.

From Alabama’s statutes regarding sexual misconduct:

A person commits the crime of sexual misconduct if…[h]e or she engages in deviate sexual intercourse with another person under circumstances other than those covered by sections 13A-6-63 and 13A-6-64. Consent is no defense to a prosecution under this subdivision. [Emphasis added; source.]

Deviate sexual intercourse: “Any act of sexual gratification between persons not married to each other involving the sex organs of one person and the mouth or anus of another.” [source]

But forget the focus on specific sex acts. I bring that up only to show that Allen would also ban books featuring or even implying sexual relations between unmarried heterosexuals.

What’s important is how broadly this law might be applied. Would Allen’s law prevent Alabama’s public universities from offering books discussing the sexuality of Alexander the Great? Would it prevent college teachers from distributing syllabi in which “deviant” conduct is mentioned? (From the article: “His bill also would prohibit a teacher from handing out materials or bringing in a classroom speaker who suggested homosexuality was OK, he said.”)

Searching the University of Alabama website turns up a broad set of courses in Human Sexuality, but if “handing out materials” is banned, how can an instructor create a syllabus or place articles on reserve in the university’s library? Also, how would such a law affect medical education? Oops! I’m sorry. AIDS and other STDs are now officially off the curriculum.

I can’t imagine this will pass. The universities will lobby hard against it. Even interpreted narrowly, it will interfere with the ability of the state’s colleges from educating its citizens. Moreover, Alabama’s universities will become less competitive at attracting out-of-state students.

Good work, Mr. Allen. You’ve demonstrated a tremendous disrespect for Alabama’s entire system of education.

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