On March 6th, the Indiana General Assembly passed Senate Bill 12 from the Senate committee on Judiciary to the House Committee on Education. The bill allows for books that are deemed “harmful” to be inaccessible to minors. Watching this bill move along as a young, first-generation American was a frightening experience.
Being someone born to refugee parents, I understand all too well what an oppressive regime can look like. Syria, the Western-Asian country that my parents fled from with nothing but the clothes on their backs, is one of the many countries that some of us as Americans often view as “riddled with terrorism.” However, allow me to share how the Syrian regime came into power: it began with book bans. It began with bills very similar to Senate Bill 12. Syrians were not allowed to have access to certain materials, which then led to the ownership of those very books becoming a symbol of resistance. Syrians quickly recognized that it would be harmful for them to believe that all that is legal is also moral, and today this is known as the Syrian Revolution.
When it comes to American politics, one of the foundational arguments for the passing of this bill is that it would be a moral decision to “protect” Hoosiers from certain material. For clarification, the “harmful” materials that this bill is referring to are actually left alarmingly ambiguous. In other words, this means that books such as To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, The Hate U Give, Looking for Alaska and dozens more are all currently subject to being banned in schools. Since many of these books speak directly to the experiences of people belonging to marginalized groups, banning them would only further silence these communities and set us all at a greater disadvantage. As a result, the safety of Hoosiers would decrease, so being an organization centered around ending violence, ICADV is determined to counteract these efforts. After all, limiting the number of various perspectives young people have now to nothing but a small handful is quite literally the definition of indoctrination, meaning I cannot help but feel as if the experiences of my parents are bound to repeat themselves. Fortunately, this bill still has time to die before further actions are implemented, so to the members of the Education Committee, as well as the rest of the Indiana General Assembly, please do not allow your morals to define our laws.