Iowa gov rebuts ‘book ban’ claim: ‘Nasty, pornographic’ books ‘should never be in classroom’

Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill this year that prohibited books with written and visual depictions of sex acts from Iowa school libraries.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds speaking with attendees at Reynolds's Fair-Side Chats at JR's South Pork Ranch at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

(The Daily Signal) — Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds is pushing back against claims from some in the media that an education bill she signed into law back in late May involved banning books.

Senate File 496 prohibited books with written and visual depictions of sex acts from Iowa school libraries.

“If you’re a parent, and you think it’s important … for your child to have access to that, then OK, go buy the book. We didn’t ban them,” Reynolds said at a Wednesday news conference.

“Go buy the book, sit down, and have a conversation with your child, but let’s not put that on the teachers, and let’s not put that on the schools,” said Reynolds, a Republican who won a landslide reelection last November.

Charges of “book banning” have spread among left-leaning and LGBTQ groups in the past few years. Some claim, without evidence, that up to 2,532 books were removed from schools in the 2021-2022 school year alone.

“We know this is false because we examined online card catalogues and found that 74% of the books PEN America identified as banned from school libraries are actually listed as available in the catalogues of those school districts. Among the books that PEN America alleges were banned are classic works, such as ‘Anne Frank’s Diary,’ ‘Brave New World,’ ‘Lord of the Flies,’ ‘Of Mice and Men,’ ‘The Color Purple,’ and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’ In every school district in which PEN America alleges those books were banned, we found copies listed as available in the online card catalogue,” wrote researchers Jay Greene and Madison Marino of The Heritage Foundation in a report in May. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)

The books removed from schools, like in Iowa, have been few in number, and typically contained sexually graphic content.

One of the books declared to be inappropriate for schools in Iowa was “All Boys Aren’t Blue.” Reynolds said she read an excerpt from that book to Des Moines’ NBC affiliate, WHO TV News“and you all (the media) couldn’t even show that portion of the interview … the media was uncomfortable with saying that on TV, but yet somebody believes our kids should be subjected to that.”

“Our kids and our teachers deserve better,” Reynolds said. “They deserve the tools to help these kids succeed. Not a damn distraction on a nasty, pornographic book that should never, ever be in a classroom.”


Lucy Gilbert

Lucy Gilbert is a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation.