Major publisher Penguin Random House and the Iowa State Education Association have filed a lawsuit against Iowa State Board of Education officials in an effort to keep sexually explicit books on school library shelves.

The lawsuit, filed on Thursday, claims that a state law banning pornographic books in schools is unconstitutional.

The law in question, SF496, was signed by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds in May. It states that books discussing gender identity are prohibited in kindergarten through sixth grade. It also prohibits books containing descriptions or visuals of sex acts across all grades.

“First, under the pretext of protecting students from ‘pornography,’ Senate File 496 prohibits books in school libraries and classroom collections that contain a description or visual depiction of a ‘sex act,’” the lawsuit states. “This restriction applies to all grades, kindergarten through twelfth grade, without consideration of the book as a whole, only excepting religious books. By so broadly regulating the display and availability of books that are constitutionally protected as to at least a significant number of students, this standard violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments because it is an impermissible content-based restriction, restricts access to constitutionally protected books, and is unconstitutionally vague.”

In a press release about the lawsuit, Penguin Random House argues the “First Amendment guarantees the right to read and to be read, and for ideas and viewpoints to be exchanged without unreasonable government interference. By limiting students’ access to books, Iowa violates this core principle of the Constitution.”

The Iowa State Education Association said in its press release that the challenge will seek a court order blocking enforcement of the “book ban” provisions of SF 496.

The lawsuit has also been joined by four authors whose books have been banned or removed in Iowa—Laurie Halse Anderson (Speak and Shout), John Green (Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars), Malinda Lo (Last Night at the Telegraph Club and A Scatter of Light), and Jodi Picoult (19 Minutes)—as well as three teachers, a high school student, and a parent.

The state’s Board of Education told The Daily Caller they will continue implementing the law.

“Senate File 496 keeps explicit books and materials with graphic descriptions or depictions of sex acts out of the hands of children in school,” the Iowa State Board of Education told the Daily Caller. “The Iowa Department of Education will continue to implement this law as statutorily required.”



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