California is banning book bans—at least in schools.
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sept. 25 signed AB1078, which bans book bans in schools, prohibits censorship of instructional materials, and strengthens state law requiring schools to provide all students access to textbooks that teach about California’s diverse communities.
I read about this on the same day I learned about a teacher in South Carolina who was apprehensive about returning to the classroom after last year being reprimanded for teaching about racism in an AP English Language and Composition class.
She had her class read Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me, which is about what it means to be Black in the United States. Students said it made them not like being white. Um, there are a lot of reasons to be uncomfortable with being white based on what people have done and continue to do.
Learning should get people out of their comfort zone.
The problem in South Carolina, though, is the law says teachers can’t make students “feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress.” Oh, for god’s sake, how does crap like that even get into law?
The answer is simple. It’s about who we are electing to leadership positions. It starts with local elections—school boards, city council, board of supervisors and continues to the state legislature and finally Congress and the White House.
The California law also prohibits school boards from banning instructional materials or library books simply because they provide inclusive and diverse perspectives.
Gay children reading about heterosexuals doesn’t “groom” them to be heterosexual any more than hetero kids reading about two male penguins is “grooming” them to be gay.
“When we restrict access to books in school that properly reflect our nation’s history and unique voices, we eliminate the mirror in which young people see themselves reflected, and we eradicate the window in which young people can comprehend the unique experiences of others,” first partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom said in a press release. “In short, book bans harm all children and youth, diminishing communal empathy and serving to further engender intolerance and division across society. We Californians believe all children must have the freedom to learn about the world around them and this new law is a critical step in protecting this right.”