He’s hoping the public will report books in your local library that contain what he calls ‘extremely graphic sexual content.’
When the tip line launched in early December, some local community member voiced their concerns.
Lynette Mejía is the founder of Louisiana Citizens Against Censorship and says she thinks the tip line is “ridiculous”
She says the AG is asking people to snitch on their fellow community members, librarians, teachers and staff who spend every day protecting our children and caring for our children and teaching our children.
“Our libraries are safe spaces. These are professionals who choose the materials in the library based on a wide variety of criteria to represent all the voices in the community. Some of those voices are LGBTQ voices, and to say that we have to rid those voices from the library is discriminatory. It’s infuriating, and it’s not pornography.”
Mejía said in all of her 25 years of taking her children to the library; there never stumbled across any pornography.
“It’s insulting to the intelligence of the people of Louisiana to say that there is pornography in our public and school library,” she said. “I wholeheartedly disagree with wasting taxpayer money to set up this tip line, as he calls it, asking citizens to basically spy on their neighbors and make these reports about these people who have devoted their lives to protecting our children and teaching our children.”
Mejía says she believes Landry is using the tip line as a campaign stunt.
“I think it’s very sad, and I think that it’s a campaign stunt, frankly, because he plans on running for governor next year, and he’s looking for, you know, an issue to run on. To attack our teachers and librarians this way and to use that as his platform to run for governor is deplorable. It really is.”
She said the librarians and teachers are valuable members of the community. In addition, to being an asset to our community, they shouldn’t be subjected to the tip line.
“We should be celebrating them. We should be praising them. We should be thanking them for the service that they do to our community every day instead of subjecting them to this suspicion that this is putting them under.” She adds, “I think that he needs to take this now immediately, and this needs to be stopped because it’s just embarrassing for our state. It’s, frankly, ridiculous.”
Katie Bickham, a writer from Shreveport, shared why she too fully disagrees with the attorney general’s tip line.
“I particularly take issue with the idea of protecting children. So many terrible things in our American History were to “protect children,” they said. Segregation, lynching, and preventing gay parents from adopting all of those things. Those terrible things have been done under this disguise of protecting children when I’m fact, there’s no concern really for the child or protecting anyone. It’s really just an element of control.”
Bickham has two published books where one highlights a family on a plantation home during the time span of 200 years. The other one talks about the birth process for women and menstruation and tells the stories of women all over the world. Bickham said her books are ones she wants teens to read but fear they would be reported to the tip line.
“My thought is we want a teenager to read what they like and read things that are maybe difficult, but still necessary for them to learn and then have an open floor to ask their parents questions about it or ask their teacher about it instead of hiding these books from them or hiding these difficult subjects from them,” she said. “Don’t we want them to come to us to read and to come to us and ask questions rather than just hoping they never find that book or getting someone in trouble or, you know, banning the book? That seems like a really backward way to protect children again.”
She said he hopes Landry knows children will find a way to books and will know who is keeping certain topics from them.
“Instead of keeping books and difficult topics under lock and key. As if their constant kind of like unspeakable sin. I would really love for us to acknowledge difficult topics and make space for kids to read that in a supervised way with their families or with their classes and ask questions.”
She concluded, “It is much better, in my opinion, to get out in front of difficult topics and discuss them openly rather than trying to hide them under lock and key or report on them like they’re some kind of dirty, you know, unclean item.”
Danny Gillane, who is the Lafayette Public Library Director had this to say: “With regard to the Louisiana Attorney General’s recently created site for citizens to report school or library employees, I wish that the site also provided a place for school officials, library officials, and local government officials to report false accusations or even to respond to accusations made against local employees.”
News 10 reached out to Landry’s office, and Cory Dennis, the press secretary of the Attorney General’s office, sent the following statement:
“Since taking office, Attorney General Jeff Landry has been committed to working with Louisiana communities to protect minors from exploitation, including early sexualization, grooming, sex trafficking, and abuse. Recently, he spoke with parents and grandparents who are concerned about specific books of a sexual nature that are not age-appropriate yet remain accessible to young children within public libraries. This recent discussion touched on the important work our Cyber Crime Unit does every day to protect Louisiana children from exploitation, outlined the very real risks & potential consequences of the early sexualization of children, and encouraged parents and guardians to remain not only engaged in their child’s development but also vigilant over their content consumption. Our submissions portal was created to give parents across the State a voice in this matter, and we look forward to future discussions. We would also remind the community that local public libraries are controlled by their local governments, and the community should have a say in those standards.”