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Consideration of book bans in California from California lawmakers, in a strong, blue state

Posted by Sara Cooper | Aug 21, 2023 | 0 Comments

Following their summer recess, California lawmakers will be hearing several bills including blocking local education officials from banning books in the classroom. The Democratic-backed bill would bring a major change to the K-12 education system in the Golden State, preventing governing school boards from barring books that include “inclusive and diverse perspectives,” according to the Washington Examiner.

Assemblyman Corey Jackson introduced AB 1078 in February as a response to the school board of Temecula Valley Unified School District, composed of conservative leadership in the blue state, banning a social studies curriculum that cites LGBT activists. The district's board had reversed its decision after Governor Newsom intervened.

The California Republican Assembly argued that there is a bigger picture here with how the schools that are targeted are the ones who have banned critical race theory and that it is an oversight on parental rights.

“This is a slap in the face to parents who voted for a new direction in school districts across the state,” Republican Assemblyman Joe Patterson wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, when the legislation was initially introduced.

“I'm extremely concerned that this bill will further divide our state,” GOP state Sen. Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh said at last month's hearing. “We have so many parents leaving the state of California, taking their children with them, because they believe the state of California does not reflect and respect their values … and education is right at the top.”

This bill would allow school boards to consider which books to be banned with needing both a supermajority vote and diverse alternatives to replace them or else face a fine.

The bill moved through the Senate Education Committee in July and will be heard by the chamber's Appropriations Committee in their last final five weeks of the summer session.

Provided by the Los Angeles Times, here are steps anyone can take when faced with attempts to ban books:

  • Encourage parents and school board officials to read the books in question.
  • Talk with people challenging specific titles to understand their concerns and motivations. Counter misinformation and incorrect labeling of LGBTQ+ books.
  • Use the appeals process at your school or district to have the challenged book(s) reviewed by a committee.
  • Ensure the review committee includes students, parents, educators and potentially administrators.
  • Rally community members, parents, students and fellow educators against the book ban.
  • Voice your concerns at school board meetings or city council sessions. The American Library Assn.'s Unite Against Book Banks site has a guide to help you.
  • Recognize that local battles over book content are as significant as, if not more so than, federal or state-level developments.
  • Create a Banned Books Week event or lesson at your school. This year's Banned Books Week takes place Oct. 1 to 7, and you can download promotional materials such as posters, fliers, shelf talkers and even trivia templates at the website dedicated to the event.
  • Educate students about the history of book censorship in the U.S. and efforts to censor inclusive learning in schools. The American Federation of Teachers, a national teachers union, offers lesson plans for this topic on its website.
  • Consult the Freedom to Read Foundation website for legal insights, advocacy strategies and community networks.
  • Stay informed about any developments related to the book ban and continue advocating for the inclusion of LGBTQ+ literature in educational settings.

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