“According to the FBI, not one of these school-board-related investigations resulted in federal arrests or charges,” Hunt said. “Not a single one.”
Democratic members of the subcommittee disputed some of the testimony and the statements made by Republican subcommittee members.
Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Pennsylvania, who serves as the subcommittee’s ranking member, said the memo was focused on potential criminal activity, such as threats of violence.
“Any reasonable person can see the difference between threats of political violence and legitimate political discourse,” Scanlon said. “Unfortunately, this hearing is based upon [a] false narrative … designed to promote chaos and division in our communities.”
Scanlon claimed the “real First Amendment threat” comes from “extremists [who] are imposing their beliefs on all students and parents through library book bans, bans on certain subjects in the public school curricula, and censorship of educators all to the detriment of students’ learning.”
PEN America Managing Director Nadine Johnson also testified before the committee about states and school districts that have restricted access to controversial books in school libraries.
“In this new era of censorship, we have tracked 303 bills, which we term educational gag orders, in 44 states,” Johnson said. “These government restrictions forbid the teaching of specific curricula or ban certain concepts from the classroom.”
Several Republican committee members, including Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, countered that they believe the books being removed from school libraries are inappropriate for children.
Roy referred to the book “Gender Queer,” which he said contained “graphic pictures that are being put in front of our kids in schools,” such as “two men engaged in a sexual position” and “two men engaged in oral sex.”
Rep. Mike Johnson indicated there would be additional hearings from the subcommittee to address these matters further.