California Bans Book Bans In Schools

The California State Legislature forwarded a bill to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) desk on September 11 that aims to prevent schools in the state from banning books. The bill was authored by Asm. Corey Jackson (D-Moreno Valley), and is expected to be signed by Newsom. The bill is in response to reports that Florida has banned more than 500 books since Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed legislation preventing raunchy and salacious materials from being available in school libraries.

Opponents of the bill point out that the banning of books in school libraries does not prevent children from accessing these materials online or in public libraries. Nor do the bans prevent parents who believe their children should be exposed to these concepts from purchasing the books and providing them to children.

The law will overturn controversial decisions by the Burbank School District which banned classics including To Kill a Mockingbird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn due to racist language and concepts, and the decision by a school board in Temecula to ban an elementary school-age lesson on Harvey Milk, the homosexual San Francisco supervisor killed in 1978.

Newsom prevented the Temecula district from blocking the lesson on gay rights by threatening to send students copies directly and charging the district. No similar action was taken by the Governor’s Office in response to the banning of classic literature in Burbank.

Under the new law, school districts are required to provide education through social sciences that teach themes of diversity and inclusion, however, the bill remains largely toothless. The new bill threatens districts with a reduction in funding based on the Local Control Formula established in 2012-13.