Monumental Maryland Bill Makes Aims to Prevent Book Censorship

Maryland proposes a law that would interfere with book bans in the state. Read on to discover what we know about this breakthrough policy.

Book Bans Book Culture Book News
Two book displays sit at the forefront of a library room with stacked shelves and a large table.

Amid multiple book-banning efforts, never-ending book challenges, and blanketed educational restrictions, Maryland proposes a bill to prevent restrictions on children’s literary materials. House Bill 785, or the Freedom to Read bill, seeks to define the criteria that allows an individual to challenge a book offered in a public school or library based on their opinion of the quality of its material. The Maryland State Education Association states that this bill is essential to ensuring that students get an accurate education free of political bias and is to counteract book-banning efforts within the district and the nation.

What Would This Bill Do?

The Freedom to Read Bill focuses on book bans and shadow bans, a type of ban seen regarding book displays. Individuals who deem displayed books inappropriate will steal and keep them so as not to expose children to their material. The Freedom to Read bill would reinstate the fine for intentionally withholding, damaging, or destroying library materials to $1,000 to prevent future situations like this from happening.

A young girl in a pink shirt and necklace rifles through picture books on a library shelf.

The Maryland State Library Association reports that challenges to library collections face record increases, making it significantly more difficult for librarians to navigate their jobs. Further, most librarians in the state now hesitate to purchase books they know will benefit children in fear of how parents or community members will interpret the content. In some states, librarians are prosecuted on criminal charges if a child comes across a book their parents or guardians believe inappropriate. For librarians, this bill would rehabilitate their mission to educate the community and relieve the stress contemporary issues place on them.

Two people exchange a stack of books in a library. On person on the right has a pink and gray chevron sweater, and the person on the left is in a gray flannel.

What Do Opposing Sides Have To Say?

Supporters of book banning, censorship, or challenges believe that measures must be implemented to ensure children are not exposed to obscene content without parental guidance. Opponents believe that book-banning bills come from extremist politics, unjustly criminalizing librarians, and preventing children from receiving an honest, robust education.

House Bill 785 has left the House and is expected at the state Senate. The debate continues on whether book censorship, in any form, hurts children’s educational growth and infringes on their First Amendment Rights or protects them from potentially harmful and inappropriate material.

Click here to stay up to date on book news.

Click here to browse Bookstr’s Banned Books bookshelf on Bookshop.