Wednesday, May 17, 2023

WI Lawmaker Wants to Bring DeSantis-Style Politics (and Book Bans) to the State

State Rep. Scott Allen (R) wants to give parents the ability to sue school districts for books they believe are "obscene." The move to do so would mirror what Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republicans have done in Florida, inevitably leading to book bans and more problems here that are regularly seen in the Sunshine State.

Allen proposes two bills in a recent press release he published.

From Business Insider:

The first bill recommends that the state strip school employees and teachers of their protections against prosecution for "displaying obscene material," the release says. The other bill would prohibit the use of public funds to purchase "obscene material."

Allen pretends his proposal is innocuous. "When you look at the definition of obscene material in state statute, there is no reason for that type of material to be in our schools," he said.

Obscenity is indeed defined by state law as material that "the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find appeals to the prurient interest if taken as a whole; under contemporary community standards, describes or shows sexual conduct in a patently offensive way; and lacks serious literary, artistic, political, educational or scientific value, if taken as a whole."

Allen says in his presser that he wants "to ensure that students are not encountering sexually explicit material in school." That same excuse, however, has been used to justify expansive book bans, as bigoted individuals in Florida, for example, have threatened schools with lawsuits over books that simply depict gay characters who aren't engaged in sexual acts at all. 

Don't be fooled: Allen and other Republicans are hoping to bring that kind of DeSantis-style politics to Wisconsin, too, to allow transphobic and homophobic community members the opportunity to ban books and make this state less welcoming for LGBTQ students. It's par for the course for the GOP, after all...

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