Minot-area parents, teens react to book banning bills going before ND lawmakers

Published: Feb. 20, 2023 at 6:09 PM CST
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MINOT, N.D. (KMOT) – A pair of bills have gone before state lawmakers this session relating to banning books with sexually explicit content. The debate has stirred strong reactions from both lawmakers and those who would be impacted by the laws.

Your News Leader talked with teens and parents to get their take on the hot-button issue.

Eighteen-year-old Tori Hoverson said when in doubt, sexual content in the young adult section should be placed in the adult section.

“I think of how grocery stores have to really make sure that their alcohol and that kind of stuff is in a very separate section and that they’re making sure it’s only 21 and over,” said Hoverson.

Rep. Vicky Steiner, R-Dickinson, introduced House Bill 1205 and said every community has its own standard of what’s acceptable.

”If they feel the standard’s been breached, the community can come in and say we want these books off limits to children or we want these books removed or we want these books to only be checked out by parents,” said Steiner.

Related content: Librarians, booksellers in Minot share concerns over proposed book bans

Although books intended for different age groups are separated, workers can’t stop kids who wander the aisles without their parents. Chad Gifford, a father of three, said the library belongs to people of all ages.

”If these bills pass and we have to treat every book as though it should be available only in the children’s section, well, this public library doesn’t become public anymore. We just have children’s libraries,” said Gifford.

According to a study by the PEN organization, of all the books taken off school bookshelves, nearly half of them were intended for young adult readers.

Sixteen-year-old Maeli Haia said she doesn’t always make the smartest decisions, but reading helps her prepare for adulthood.

”When I was younger, I heard just a bunch of things that weren’t true at all, and reading about them and understanding them actually helped me realize that’s not how things go. I probably shouldn’t be listening to my peers,” said Maeli.

Maeli’s mother, Ariel Hirzel, who also has two nine-year-old twins, said her approach to educating these age groups is completely different.

”Obviously, I’m not going to teach my nine-year-old the same thing I’m going to teach my 16-year-old. Their brains aren’t capable of understanding the same thing that my 16-year-old is,” said Hirzel.

Hirzel said what kids have access to in a public library should be at the discretion of their parents.

One thing all community members Your News Leader spoke to said they wanted to protect children.

Related content: Book ban bills pass ND House and Senate

The two bills in question, House Bill 1205 and Senate Bill 2360, have passed their respective chambers and will be considered by the other chamber at crossover.

Hearings have yet to be scheduled.