Op-Ed: Liberty at the Library

David Paige (Conway), Angela Brennan (Bow/Hopkinton), and Nicholas Germana (Keene) are NH State Representatives.

Here in the “Live Free or Die” state, we prize our freedoms. But in New Hampshire, as elsewhere in the United States, we are seeing an increase in attempts to ban books and other valuable educational materials from schools. This alarming trend, often accompanied by false, inflammatory rhetoric about “porn in schools,” is used to justify the passage of new laws that limit liberty in the library, including proposed laws here in New Hampshire.

These laws, if enacted, would infringe students’ First Amendment rights and could sweep away a broad range of literature and health-related content that does not remotely fit well-established definitions of obscenity.

The book banners’ agenda is clear: more than half of the books targeted for removal under such laws nationally are by or about people of color or LGBTQ+ individuals. It is imperative that we protect the right of students of every gender, race, and ability to see themselves represented in school. Denying children this basic right denies them equal educational opportunity.

Banning books denies children the opportunity to find themselves reflected in a book, connect with diverse perspectives, and expand their imagination to discover new possibilities, thus limiting their understanding of the world they’ll inherit. This is crucial for preparing them for the challenges they will face and for fostering empathy for those from whom they differ.

Equally concerning is the targeting of books that address critical issues in teens’ lives, including sexual well-being, teen pregnancy, abortion, and sexual assault. When government decides it knows better than parents and restricts access to such books, we deny children the opportunity to feel seen, less alone, and to navigate these challenges in their lives. It is not hyperbole to emphatically state: books save lives.

Read More in The Concord Monitor