Arkansas Libraries Continue to Push Sexually Explicit Materials on Kids

Above: The book It’s Perfectly Normal sits on display in the children’s section of the Craighead County Public Library in Jonesboro. The book contains inappropriate illustrations depicting nudity and sexual activity.

The following is adapted from a column that appeared in Family Council’s April update letter.

Public libraries and school libraries have been a source of contention in recent years. Parents in Arkansas—and throughout the nation—have discovered graphic sexual materials in the children’s section of their local libraries. 

It is important to note that progress has been made due to the dedicated efforts of parents, good librarians, and other community members interested in protecting the innocence of children.  However, there are still activists in local libraries who are intent on making sexual material available to children.  For example, the picture next to this column is from a display in the children’s section of the Craighead County Library last December.  The book It’s Perfectly Normal contains graphic pictures of same-sex and opposite-sex couples having sex, descriptions of anal sex, pictures of children masturbating, and more than 30 pictures of naked adults of various ages.  It also promotes abortion as a healthy choice. 

This book had been redesignated for shelving on a special shelf for parents and teachers rather than for circulation in the normal children’s shelving.  However, that did not keep staff members from going out of their way to still expose children browsing the shelves to graphic sexual materials.  A concerned parent noticed this book on display to kids and brought it to the attention of the children’s library director.  Thankfully, she removed it from the display, but how many kids may have been exposed before the book was reshelved?  

It’s a reminder of an eye-opening quote promoted on the Citizens Defending the Craighead County Library Facebook page by those fighting for a right to expose kids to explicit materials:  

“It was about kids learning that other kinds of sex existed, or that sex existed at all.” 

It should always be a parent’s right and choice about when to teach their kids about sex and what specific materials to use.  When did strangers begin to think they are the ones who have this right?   

The bottom line is that children’s sections of local libraries are still not safe places for children in Arkansas, and we have much work to do to restore libraries as places where children can safely explore the world of books in their own designated areas.  Libraries truly are community treasures, and good libraries and good librarians are a blessing.  That’s why Christians and others interested in safeguarding the innocence of children should not give up on our libraries.  

Family Council is grateful to Sen. Dan Sullivan for sponsoring Act 372 of 2023 to help deal with these important issues.  This good law prohibits giving or sending a child sexual material that is harmful to minors. It also removes exemptions for libraries in the state’s obscenity laws. Some Arkansas libraries have sued to block enforcement of Act 372, and Judge Timothy Brooks has put some sections of the law on a temporary hold pending a final ruling.  However, other helpful parts of the law remain in effect.  For example, a challenge process for obscene materials in school media centers and libraries remains in effect.  A provision that gives parents access to their children’s library records also remains in effect.  Amazingly, parents did not have this right of access under state law before the passage of Act 372.  Importantly, the section that removes language from state law that shielded school and library personnel from prosecution for disseminating obscene materials to kids also remains in effect.  I think we can all agree that no one deserves a legal exemption for knowingly providing obscene materials to kids.

Stephanie Nichols is Director and Chief Legal Counsel for Arkansas Justice Institute, a division of Family Council.

Policy Points: Amendment Would Enshrine Abortion Into State Constitution, Put Women and Unborn Children at Risk

The following is adapted from a column that appeared in Family Council’s March update letter.

The picture at the top of this page is the baby I am currently expecting. It is from our 21-week ultrasound—an ultrasound where my baby is close to viability on his or her own and is well-developed enough that features can be seen and organs examined to ensure the baby is developing properly.

The abortion amendment circulating in Arkansas right now would allow babies like my precious baby — little ones created in the very image of God — to be legally aborted. In fact, the radical and extreme “Arkansas Abortion Amendment” would resurrect Roe v. Wade in Arkansas and provide a new type of abortion on demand that Arkansas has never seen before. It would not allow the state to “prohibit, penalize, delay, or restrict” abortion in any way for the first five months of pregnancy — 18 weeks after fertilization or 20 weeks gestation. This allows babies who have been alive within the womb for more than four months to be killed without a second thought, and this prohibition on common-sense limits would endanger even common-sense health and safety restrictions to protect the mother.

Babies could be killed up to the very moment of birth if a physician thinks they likely have a medical condition that would lead to death within the first month after birth. This is reliant on a “good faith” judgment call rather than hard scientific facts. And we all know that physicians are sometimes wrong in their diagnosis of a condition or their prognosis of when a person will live or die. Some babies who otherwise would have lived will most certainly be sentenced to death by late-term abortion under this provision.

The amendment would also be a major step back for parental rights in our state. Because of the “no restrictions or delays” language, Arkansas’ parental notification and consent laws would be endangered, allowing young girls to receive abortions without parental notification or consent. This lack of notice to parents also makes abuse, statutory rape, and human trafficking harder to stop. Because the amendment prohibits any restrictions or delays on abortion for the first five months and allows it up to birth in many circumstances, the State of Arkansas could be ordered by a liberal judge to use hard-earned taxpayer dollars to fund the deaths of innocent children — all the way up to birth.

When abortion becomes part of the very constitutional fabric of a state, it also becomes entrenched in the culture of a state. Often, it becomes a first line solution to the problem of unplanned pregnancies. The state becomes a culture of death instead of a culture of life. And the culture of death infects a state so that the implications are far-reaching.

Every baby has a right to life, just like my precious baby. And every mother deserves an opportunity to raise every one of her children—despite outside pressures from boyfriends, husbands, employers, and others. Valuing life has served our state well. When abortions were legal in Arkansas, records show that we lost 3,000 or more unborn human lives a year. That’s like losing the population of an entire Arkansas town every year. I believe we are better than this. Let’s link arms and become the state that says “no” to the culture of death and “yes” to a culture of life. Let’s spend ourselves on this battle and lend our time, energy, financial resources, prayers, and voices to standing firm for life. We have been chosen for this generation and this state for a reason, and we are each here “for such a time as this.” ~ Esther 4:14

Stephanie Nichols is Director and Chief Legal Counsel for Arkansas Justice Institute, a division of Family Council.