Joan Barron: Hugely Unpopular Proposed Book Policy

Columnist Joan Barron writes, "A local newspaper poll recently showed amazingly strong opposition to the Cheyenne school board’s proposed new policy on books."

Joan Barron

May 26, 20244 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

CHEYENNE —A local newspaper poll recently showed amazingly strong opposition to the Cheyenne school board’s proposed new policy on books.

A total of 585 Cheyenne citizens voted against the policy change, while only 321 in favor.

It’s was a wipeout.

Oh I know people have been warned that such polls — radio, tv and newspaper— aren’t accurate given that the most likely voters are those opposed to whatever the issue is in question.

Yet, even allowing for a generous deduction of “no” votes, the opponents still have an easy win.

Other non-official or scientific polls here and in other states show the same outcome.

People don’t like the restrictions because they smack of censorship and book banning.

If the change is adopted, the Cheyenne school district would have the most strict policy in the state regarding school library books.

The current policy allows parents to opt out their children from being allowed to either check out any books flagged for containing sexually explicit content,or to allow their children to only check out specific titles containing this content.

The proposed draft policy would create four options for parents and guardians, including no access or paent-limited access to sexually explicit materials, open access or no access at all.

One target of the policy is books about LBGTQ issues or people.

This planned policy change has ignited a culture war in the capital city.

This is unusual in that while the city and county as the state has skewed more conservative in recent elections, Cheyenne overall has been a middle ground city.

If Gillette has a clash over a school library book or books, it is not a surprise because the city always has been in the very conservative slot.

Pushing the restrictions here and in other states is a Florida group, “Moms for Liberty,” founded byRepublican former and current school board members.

The Cheyenne school board in December last year voted to adopt the new policy 3-2. The public comment period ended last week.

The board is scheduled to vote again on the policy at its meeting June 3.

Meanwhile a couple of weeks ago a coalition with help from at least one other non-profit opposition organization appeared. This group, “Wyoming Family Alliance for Freedom,” obviously fears the movement to ban books will be carried to state legislatures.

The coalition members distributed flyers door to door instructing how to locate and sign an online petition asking legislators to “Leave our freedom to read freely alone and join our fight to keep Wyoming books free,” the flyer said. “Our 1st Amendment right to read freely is threatened by our local school board banning and restricting books in our school libraries. We know they aren’t stopping there.”

Did I sign it,? You bet I did.

As a journalist and citizen I feel it is imperative to prevent any and all threats to First Amendment freedoms.

The country’s school libraries operated for 24 years under the court ruling in a 1982 New York case. Some say that court ruling kept the school libraries free from book banning and removal during those years.

The record broke in 2006 when the ACLU and others sued Florida’s Miami-Dade County School Board for removing and banning a series of children’s books.

The ACLU won that one too.

Since then the book banning movement has grown. The ACLU sued the Kansas City Missouri school district last year for removing eight books from the public school library. In Wyoming the words fly and the tempers heat once again because an out-of-state organization is marketing its own agenda to impress on the parents and school kids of Wyoming.

But that’s not a Wyoming agenda.

Let’s hope the school board tells the Moms for Liberty to go back to Florida.

We don’t need any more lawsuits.

Contact Joan Barron at 307-632-2534 or

NOTE: Wyoming Family Alliance for Freedom is not associated with Wyoming Family Alliance.

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Joan Barron

Political Columnist