California Governor Signs Law Preventing Schoolbook Bans on Race and Gender Topics

California Governor Gavin Newsom in Sacramento, California Jan. 19, 2021

( — Gavin Newsom, the Governor of California, signed legislation that prevents schools from banning books concerning controversial topics like gender, sexual orientation, and race. The bill will take effect immediately, marking the latest development in the nationwide discourse surrounding banning schoolbooks for controversial or offensive content.

Newsom’s decision to sign the bill comes months after he threatened a school board with a $1.5 million fine for refusing to teach students about the historical contributions of famous official Harvey Milk, a well-known gay rights advocate who held public office in San Francisco. The board quickly agreed to a modified curriculum that satisfied state requirements. Newsom’s outspoken support of the legislation is causing concern nationwide, as many citizens believe the state shouldn’t be able to select school education curricula for children. Newsom’s signing of the legislation is the latest instance of book bans making national headlines and is prompting action from other states.

One such state is Pennsylvania, where a similar policy regarding preventing book banning may be signed into law. The legislation in Pennsylvania covers libraries and would prevent books from being banned from public access libraries rather than schools in the region. The proposed policy is likely a response to the heavy book-banning movement within Pennsylvania, as the state is currently one of the leading states in book bans. One Pennsylvania school district is banning a staggering 456 books, ranging from books concerning race relations to books covering sexual orientation. Although Pennsylvania is a leading state regarding book bans, Texas has the heaviest bans on books in place.

According to reports, Texas school boards have banned 801 books across 22 districts, more than any other state in the country. Despite the predominant book-banning policy within Texas, members of the state’s judiciary are declaring the bans unconstitutional. Though the state’s residents don’t widely support the bans, they will likely remain in place because the school boards heavily favor censorship policies regarding topics like gender identity and race relations. While other states are likely to follow in Newsom’s footsteps, states like Texas will heavily favor banning books deemed too controversial for students to be exposed to.

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