Enrichment Arts & Culture

Louisiana AG’s bid for governor sparks ‘huge concern’ about future pushes for book bans, censorship

The President of the Louisiana Association of School Librarians worries the AG would pursue such policies if he wins the state's top office
Jeff Landry
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry talks to reporters outside the Supreme Court on Jan. 7, 2022, in Washington.(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Story at a glance

  • The President of the Louisiana Association of School Librarians Amanda Jones has some concerns about the way the state’s attorney general has accused librarians and teachers of “peddling smut” to children.

  • Landry announced he was running for governor of Louisiana in October.

  •  Shortly after announcing his bid, Landry published an opinion piece in which he accused librarians and teachers of peddling “graphic sexual content” to children.  

President of the Louisiana Association of School Librarians Amanda Jones is concerned about the future of censorship in her state, especially if current Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) wins his bid for governor.  

Landry, a conservative Republican supportive of former President Trump, announced in October he is running to fill the spot of term-limited Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) in 2023.  

More Republicans are expected to join the race, which is considered one of the country’s most highly anticipated elections of next year. But so far, Landry is the only candidate vying for Edwards’s post.

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As attorney general, Landry has butted heads with Edwards and pushed conservative policies on issues like the death penalty, COVID-19 vaccines and LGBTQ rights.  

Jones worries that as governor, Landry will apply extreme conservative policies to what books can be used in classrooms and libraries.  

“If he becomes governor, I think there is a huge concern that he will push for censorship and book-banning legislation as well as encourage other groups to cause upheaval at public libraries,” Jones told The Hill.  

“In a day and age where educators more than ever and librarians more than ever need support, he is doing the exact opposite,” she added.   

Just days before announcing his run for governor, Landry published an opinion piece in The Gonzalez Weekly Citizen entitled “Why are taxpayers subsidizing the sexualization of children?” 

In the piece, Landry accuses teachers and librarians in the state of peddling “smut” to children and connecting them to “extremely graphic sexual content.”  

“I have struggled to find the right words to describe the new books currently being circulated within the children’s sections of our public libraries and public schools; but I too know pornography when I see it, even when it is thinly disguised as educational material for children,” Landry said in the article.  

“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.”  

Like in many other “red” states, book bans in Louisiana have been increasing over the past two years mostly under the guise of protecting children from sexual content.  

While book bans are nothing new in the United States, the tactics behind the bans and their politicized nature is unique to the current wave of censorship. 

And the targets of the bans are mostly books that touch on the lives of members of the LGBQT community or people of color, according to a PEN America analysis. 

Louisiana does not currently have any state legislation banning books in place, but the new politicized wave of book bans have come to the state in other ways, including recently in Lafayette and Livingston Parishes.

After conservatives took over the Lafayette Parish Library Board, members granted themselves the power to ban books earlier this year.  

In August, the Livingston Parish Council voted to support restricting children’s access to certain books in the public library that had to do with sex or sexual orientation, among others. Some community members, including Jones, pushed back against the measure.  

Jones received a barrage of online harassment and even death threats for taking a stand against the board’s efforts to restrict access to books. 

Landry’s office has not responded to a request for comment from The Hill.  

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