Iowa schools share concerns amid new book ban law

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(ABC 6 News) – You can’t judge a book by its cover they say. But imagine going through hundreds of books, page by page to see what it’s really about. That’s the case for some Iowa schools with the state’s new book ban law.

The law bans books in schools related to gender identity, sexual orientation, and descriptions or visual depictions of sexual acts.

Related: Iowa Gov. Reynolds signs education law on book bans, teaching of LGBTQ topics

“I’m not saying we should have books in our media center or classrooms that have graphic sex depictions or pictures,” said Superintendent Doug Gee with Clear Lake Community Schools.

“The reality is some of those things are out there. We just need to be cognizant of our staff and what we’re being asked to do overwhelmingly.”

Superintendent Wayne Kronnemann at West Hancock Community School District says “It’s been kind of a pain, all that it’s doing.

“We’re a pretty conservative district. Howard and Britt are pretty conservative towns and I’m not sure that we’ve found any [books] yet.”

Districts are trying to make sure nothing gets overlooked. Mason City is using artificial intelligence to help narrow things down.

“We’re gonna try our best to do what we need to do pretty quickly,” said Brigette Exman, the Administrative Assistant for Mason City Community School District. Nothing books that are pulled will be put into storage, for now.

Related: Mason City schools using A.I. to comply with state law

Some, are bringing in a legal team. As Superintendent Gee explained:

“They’re kind of like that last person you would say, ‘What’s your interpretation of this one?’ So we’re not using them a ton.

“To protect the school and our kids, if we really have that question of doubt, we’re going to consult with our school attorney.”

Some of the books being looked at include The Handmaid’s Tale. A graphic novel including rape and violence. Mason City High School has nearly 60 copies.

Related: Push to remove ‘obscene’ books in Mason City

“What it is really coming down to is it is less about pornography and it is more about continuing to marginalize and discriminate against these people,” said Jessica Tierney who is against the state’s new law.

Connie Dianda, is all for the change.

“This is talking about public schools and not having those books in the public school libraries, I mean if you want to have that book, go out and buy that book on Amazon for your child.”

Schools have until January to clear the shelves. So far the districts do not have a rough estimate as to how much money this is costing as far as the price of each book.