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The Grizzly Gazette

The Grizzly Gazette

The Grizzly Gazette

Ban On Banning Books

Book bans have become increasingly popular in many states throughout America. Often, the challenges on many books are for having LGBTQ+ themes, discussing racism, and mentions of sexual abuse and/or harassment. 

In 2022, the American Library Association (ALA) reported that there was a 70% increase in book challenges in comparison to 2021. There were approximately 1,050 requests to censor and ban hundreds of books within school curriculums and public libraries. 

ALA Director of Intellectual Freedom Deborah Caldwell-Stone said, “What we are seeing now is organized political advocacy groups go to school boards with an agenda with a long list of books they want banned because those books don’t fit their political, moral or religious agenda.”

Assistant Professor of Education Jason Griffith from Penn State University believes that the increase in book banning and challenges is largely in part due to the pandemic, where parents had to take on a hands-on role in their children’s learning and were able to see the curriculum in a more direct way. 

At Los Osos High School, we read multiple books throughout our English classes, such as “Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson, “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, and “Stamped: Racism, Anti Racism, and You” by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds. Those books have been listed on banned books lists for several years now. 

Recently, Corey Johnson, an assemblyman for Moreno Valley, presented the Assembly Bill 1078 and it was passed on Thursday, September 7, 2023. The bill would no longer allow school boards to censor or ban books from their instructional materials and curriculums. 

In light of his bill, Johnson said, “We’re taking a firm stand against book banning in California’s schools, ensuring that our students have access to a broad range of educational materials that accurately represent the rich cultural and racial diversity of our society.”

Multiple districts in California have made attempts at banning books before the bill’s proposal. The Orange Unified School District had banned a digital reading app, Sora, earlier in the year, making it one of several schools that have banned access to entire libraries. 

It is expected that California Governor Gavin Newsome is to approve the bill. His support against book bans has been prevalent throughout his term. 

Most recently, in July of 2023, the Temecula Valley School Board made an attempt to reject a new social studies textbook that had mentions of gay rights leader Harvey Milk, who was assassinated in 1978, despite it already having been approved by teachers and families. Newsome threatened to bill the district and the Temecula school board retreated and chose to adopt the book. 

As a response to the bill, Newsome said, “California is the true freedom state: a place where families — not political fanatics — have the freedom to decide what’s right for them. With the passage of this legislation that bans book bans and ensures all students have textbooks, our state’s Family Agenda is now even stronger. All students deserve the freedom to read and learn about the truth, the world, and themselves.”

AB1078 is reportedly not extended to public libraries, however is considered to be a step forward by many educators and librarians throughout the state. 

If Newsom were to pass the bill, it would officially make California the second state to place restrictions on banning books, right after the state of Illinois. 

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