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South Carolina enacts stringent book ban amid growing movement

South Carolina’s new book ban regulation is being pegged as one of the nation’s most restrictive.

Regulation 43-170 mandates books with sexual conduct to be removed from South Carolina’s public schools. The regulation will be in effect when students return in the fall.

Instruction Material is not “Age and Developmentally Appropriate” for any age or age group of children if it includes descriptions or visual depictions of “sexual conduct,”” states the regulation

Sinclair Broadcast Group’s Columbia station, WACH Fox, reports some parents say these guidelines must be implemented to make a uniform policy. Others say the regulation is vague and could open the door to banning several age-appropriate and necessary books for children.

The regulation lists a complaint process for parents or others who do not agree with books or materials being taught.

Beginning August 1, 2024, a parent or legal guardian of any student who attends a school within a school district and who has made a good faith effort to address their concerns regarding non-compliance with this regulation with school level or district level staff shall have the right to file a complaint requesting that specifically identified Existing Instructional Material be discontinued,” the regulation explains.

Parents can file a complaint with their district school board about a book or any material they feel should be removed from the curriculum. The district board will hold a public meeting to consider the complaint, hear from the public, and vote. If the parent disagrees with the district board’s decision, they can file an appeal to the State Board, and the State Board would go through a review process and make a decision.

Book Bans Across the Country

There were over 4,000 book bans last fall, according to a recent report from Pen America, a free expression group. The report looked at bans in 52 public school districts across 23 states.

The most bans happened in Florida with more than 3,100. Wisconsin, Iowa, Texas, Kentucky, and Virginia also saw a lot of book bans.

Pen America writes books about people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals are frequently targeted. Many books that portray violence and abuse are being removed too. Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” a feminist dystopian novel about rape and forced birth, was on the list of banned books. The Merriam-Webster Elementary Dictionary was also removed from some schools.

The Conservative parental rights group, Moms For Liberty, has been a huge driver of book bans, urging educators to keep content age-appropriate. The advocates on the other side of the argument say the book bans are undermining the education of millions of students across the country.

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