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Missouri Senate bans books from public and private elementary and secondary schools with revision to law


Cordelia Kraft clutches book while crying after hearing about SB 775. She duct tapes her mouth to represent the silencing that is occurring.

“Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury is categorized as a dystopian novel where books are outlawed and burned. I always felt this book was frightening fiction with the control the authoritative figures had, taking away every book, gaining more power, stripping their people from the beauty a book can bring. However, with the Missouri Law on book bans, “Fahrenheit 451” is becoming less of a fiction and now a reality. 

On Aug. 28, the Missouri Senate enacted a revision to SB 775 stating schools cannot provide, assign, supply, or distribute books and/or materials that contain explicit sexual information to a student. If a person were to provide such material in school, they would spend a year in jail with a Class A misdemeanor or pay a $2,000 fine. Work that provides artistic or  anthropological significance as well as materials in a science or health class that contain explicit images are voided from this law.

Cordelia Kraft clutches book whilst looking beyond. She looks to our leaders in sorrow caused by the revisions to SB 775. (Aniya Sparrow)

Adding this provision to SB 775 equates sex trafficking and sexual assault with being handed a book. How can a book come anywhere close to what is under SB 775? 

Books like “Stitches’’ by David Small, “Flamer’’ by Mike Curato, “Bleach, Vol. 21: Be My Family or Not” by Tite Kubo, and “Himawari House” by Harmony Becker were all rated above a 4.05 out of a 5.00 point scale on Goodreads, one of the largest websites to rate and recommend books,  but were all on the list of books to be banned from students and were all removed from Francis Howell School District’s libraries. Some people who stand against the book ban believe this is happening so LGBTQIA and African-American writers are silenced. Others believe this is to open a gate to ban more and more books from schools and gain more authority over teachers and students. 

I believe the banning is to shield young adults from the real world, censor readers and writers, to have yet again more control in our lives. When we walk into school, we lose many freedoms. We cannot dress a certain way, say certain words, wear a hood, and now read certain books. 

What harm does it cause anyone if I were to see something explicit in a well-written book over a video or picture in health class? Why does the Missouri Senate or a different child’s parent care what I read or where I read it? Why does my life, my escape become limited because adults are afraid of adolescents seeing what the real world is like?

In an interview with 5 On Your Side, Republican Senator Rick Brattin — who filed the amendment to SB 775 — said he believes these books are, “literally destroying kids’ innocence.”

In the beginning of getting the law finalized, Brattin admitted they wanted to go after literary aspects, but they decided upon the visual aspects instead. Brattin was surprised at how this topic has caused controversy. As if everyone would sit down and agree with him, because it’s okay for a book to talk about these explicit things, but they shouldn’t show it. 

As a 17-year-old Missouri citizen who has read multiple books on the ban list, my innocence is the same as before. Every morning I wake up in my bed covered in stuffed animals, cuddle my puppy, go to school, work, come home, talk to my parents, and sleep. I still collect small Harry Potter toys and watch the newest Disney movies. I can read, watch, listen to all these explicit things and still be exactly who I was before these books. I can have the same innocence I had before I opened a book. 

We can see the reality of the world in real-time, but reading or seeing it in a book at school is cause for legal prosecution? Literature is not the source of what these senators and adults believe is “destroying” our innocence. The fact is we are growing up. Seniors are leaving in less than a year to try and become an adult in this world. How can that happen when reality is being censored? 

I am worried for the people at risk of facing the consequences from this law. My librarians want to give me a book I can enjoy, and relate to. Why should they go to jail for doing their job? Why should someone’s opinion take away my options? 

I’m confused, angry. I have read the revisions to this bill over and over, I have listened to these senators and parents explain why this is happening, but it will never make sense as to why they have the right to tell my teachers, librarians, or principals what books they cannot give me.