February 25, 2021
Call to action- Bills to Criminalize School Librarians: “Distribution of Harmful Materials to Minors”
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HB 516 and SB 226 are currently assigned to their respective body’s judiciary committees for consideration. Both bills seek to revise Georgia Code to remove school libraries from the library exception to criminal prosecution for “distribution of harmful materials to minors.” This is a simplified version of a bill last year which did not pass out of the committee, and our goal is that these two bills also remain in committee this year. Both bills propose to move the word “school” from this section:
§ 16-12-104. Library exception
The provisions of Code Section 16-12-103 shall not apply to any public library operated by the state or any of its political subdivisions nor to any library operated as a part of any school, college, or university.
Please email, call, or otherwise contact members of the House and Senate committees to which these bills are now assigned (listed below), and ask them to not pass this bill onto the floor. You may identify yourself as a school librarian, member of GLMA, and constituent in their district if that applies (or friend/family of constituent who may also contact them). You do not need to contact your own legislators now unless they are on one of these committees or you have an existing relationship and you want to be proactive.
If you elect to call, please remember to do so outside your working hours and from a personal phone. If you email, please do not use your school email account and also send the email outside school hours. You may identify the school or district in which you work to establish credibility but provide your home address and phone number if requested.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact any Advocacy Coordinator; Nan Brown (email@example.com), Amanda Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Erin Baker (email@example.com)
House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee members (refer to House Bill 516)
James Burchett (Chair) (404) 656-5105 Waycross, GA
Bert Reeves (V Chair) (404) 651-7737 Marietta, GA
Micah Gravley (404) 656-5025 Douglasville, GA
Mandi Ballinger (404) 656-7153 Canton, GA
William Boddie (404) 656-0287 East Point, GA
Charlice Byrd (404) 656-0213 Woodstock, GA
Sharon Cooper (404) 656-5069 Marietta, GA
Chuck Efstration (404) 656-5125 Dacula, GA
Dar'shun Kendrick (404) 656-0109 Lithonia, GA
Zulma Lopez (404) 656-0298 Atlanta, GA
Josh McLaurin (404) 656-0202 Atlanta, GA
Martin Momtahan (404) 656-0178 Dallas, GA
Steven Sainz (404) 656-0178 Woodbine, GA
Ed Setzler (404) 656-5143 Acworth, GA
Tyler Paul Smith (404) 657-1803 Bremen, GA
Senate Judiciary Committee (refer to Senate Bill 226)
Brian Strickland (chair) (404) 463-6598 McDonough, GA
Bill Cowsert (v-chair) (404) 463-1366 Athens, GA
John Kennedy (404) 656-0045 Macon, GA
Bo Hatchett (404) 656-7454 Cornelia, GA
Harold Jones II (404) 656-0036 Augusta, GA
Kay Kirkpatrick (404) 656-3932 Marietta, GA
Elena Parent (404) 656-5109 Atlanta, GA
Michael 'Doc' Rhett (404) 656-0054 Marietta, GA
Blake Tillery (404) 656-5038 Vidalia , GA
Ben Watson (404) 656-7880 Savannah, GA
Should you opt to call their offices, you will almost certainly speak with a staffer (who often will be assigned to multiple people) rather than the legislator him/herself. Identify yourself, that you would like to leave a message for the specific member in his/her role on the Judiciary Committee, the bill number, and that as a library media specialist in Georgia you oppose passage of this bill out of committee. You may add that your opposition is based on the fact that the bill would criminalize “distribution of harmful materials to minors” and any personal opinion you have about the subject nature of this and censorship. (See state regulations below regarding selection and reconsideration policies already required of all schools and districts.)
If you would prefer to email, you may provide as much information as you wish but it will improve credibility to identify yourself as a library media specialist in a specific school district at least. (Hearing from Georgia residents obviously has more impact on legislators.) Share some variation of this message:
Dear Representative/Senator XXX,
My name is XXX and I have been a library media specialist/teacher librarian/xxx in Georgia for XX years (and/or am now a LMS/TL at XXX School/in XXX school district). I am also a member of Georgia Library Media Association and through this group have learned that HB/SB XXX is currently under consideration in your committee.
I am very concerned/ troubled/synonym about HB/SB which would remove school librarians from the criminal exception to Georgia code related to “distribution of harmful materials to minors.” I ask that you do NOT pass this bill from your committee as local school districts are already required to have a process for reconsideration of materials in their school libraries, with appeals through local districts and the state Board of Education. (Personalize here if you’d like)
Thank you for your time/consideration/etc
(a) Each local board of education shall adopt a media policy that
1. Provides for the establishment of a media committee at the system level and at each school.
2. Requires development of procedures for the school system and for
(i) Selecting materials locally,
(ii) Handling requests for reconsideration of materials,
(iii) Considering gifts of instructional resources,
(iv) Using non-school owned materials,
(v) Complying with copyright law.