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State Anti-Book Ban Legislation Updates: Book Censorship News, March 15, 2024

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As more state legislative sessions come to a close for the season, let’s catch up on where the host of anti-book ban bills across the country currently stand. This is not a comprehensive list, as sometimes good legislation — like its not-good counterparts — gets buried in other bills.

Those bills proposed to encourage book bans are not being included here. Those will come in a separate update. Instead, the focus here is on where progress is being attempted, even if not fully successful.

A key theme you’ll see is that most of these bills were not shot down due to political reasons. They simply did not make it through the session itself. That sets many of them up as priorities for the next legislative session.

Colorado

The anti-book ban bill in Colorado introduced in January has failed in the Senate Education Committee.

Kansas

The bill to curtail book bans in Kansas, introduced in January, continues to sit in the Senate Committee on Federal and State Affairs.

Maryland

The promising Freedom to Read Act introduced in the state was heard this week in both the House and Senate. A decision on the bill will come by March 18, but favorable movement on the legislation leaves plenty of hope for a good outcome.

Massachusetts

A holistic bill to curb book bans and protect library workers was proposed earlier this year. Massachusetts is unique in how its state legislature works, so the bill has yet to do much movement, but it is expected to pick up again during the summer session.

Minnesota

One of the most recent bills proposed came from Minnesota, proposed in late February. The bill has advanced in the state House.

New Jersey

Of all the bills proposed so far nationwide, New Jersey’s is the most comprehensive and expansive. Unfortunately, there has yet to be much action taken on the legislation in either the House or the Assembly. Several representatives statewide have been vocal about it, including those representing districts where book bans have been in abundance.

New Mexico

New Mexico was one of the first states to propose an anti-book ban this year. Unfortunately, the bill never made it far enough to be heard this session.

Oregon

Despite positive movement on the Oregon book ban bill — which happened in spite of the misinformation campaign about it lodged by the opposition — it has ultimately died. The bill ended not due to vote but due to not being heard before the legislative session ended.

Virginia

The anti-book ban measures proposed in Virginia passed through both the House and the Senate. It would ban book bans by school boards. The bill will not go into law, as Governor Youngin has vetoed it.

Washington

It might feel like there is no good news in this update. But there is — Washington’s anti-book ban bill has passed the House and Senate, and it is sitting on the Governor’s desk awaiting signature.

Earlier this week, I highlighted two more positive anti-book ban bills. One is in Delaware, and one is in Connecticut. It is too soon to add updates not already in the story.

Book Censorship News: March 15, 2024

  • Let’s launch with big news: “Don’t Say Gay” is dead, at least in Florida schools and libraries. Will we see all of the LGBTQ+ books put back on shelves? Doubtful, of course, but this is a reminder that continuing to fight matters.
  • 140 books were pulled from Princeton Independent School District (TX). Citizens Defending Freedom made it happen.
  • Flathead County Library (MT) trustees are considering getting rid of the YA designation for books because “the genre’s wide age range that they argue fails to give parents enough guidance on whether a book is appropriate for their child.” Rich coming from the library that just changed its name from ImagineIf for some inexplicable reason. In all seriousness, this is where we are in book banning. YA books, which have a designated age range, can no longer be called young adult books. I’ll be honest: I’ve worried about this before.
  • Floyd County, Virginia, schools have killed their annual One Division, One Book program this year because the book selected — Wishtree by Katherine Applegate — has a short passage about pronouns. Note that this article uses a derogatory word for trans people.
  • Knox County Schools (TN) will decide in April whether or not to ban Gender Queer and Fun Home.
  • Have you noticed now that the big media has gotten bored of book censorship news, and links here have become more and more paywalled? Anyway, Mingus Union Schools (AZ) are not only looking for ways to ban books but also ban students from sharing books. The story is paywalled, so those details are from the headline and short Google excerpt.
  • Speaking of paywalling stories, apparently, the “discovery” of The Bluest Eye in Norfolk High School (VA) has led to controversy.
  • Whatever happened to the challenges to the Quran and The Book of Mormon in Davis School District (UT)? Both remain on shelves after a long review process.
  • Tennessee legislators are finding new ways to write book banning legislation.
  • In Nebraska, proposed legislation to ban books failed at a packed state education meeting.
  • The bad Idaho book ban bill died by one vote last week, but it’s back now with some new language. If you’re in Idaho, make your phone calls.
  • Heartstopper will remain on shelves in Milford, Connecticut, schools.
  • “The books included a Black Panther book with a note saying ‘it wasn’t approved’, one about an immigrant on the border with the notice ‘our country has no room and it’s not fair’ and a roller derby book about a dad discussing being transgender and teenage girls having a crush on another girl.” A bunch of books were found in the trash outside a PS 55/Staten Island (NY) school. There’s so little in terms of details here, to be honest, including the fact that this discovery happened in November but is just hitting the news.
  • Billings Public Schools (MT) will be revisiting their book selection policies this week. The proposal to take the power out of the hands of professionals in the school was not accepted. This *should* be good news — when Assassination Classroom was challenged in the district, it was the board and their associates who wanted to ban the book, but the school leadership itself rejected the ban.
  • Mentor School District (OH) will decide whether or not to ban two books from the library this week. The books include one on teen activists (the book banners don’t like the science in it) and one is Empire of Storms. Both books will remain on shelves.
  • Here are the latest directives for Autauga-Prattville Public Library (AL), where the library board expects the library workers to move books around the library, never purchase LGBTQ+ books for those under 18, and red label any LGBTQ+ content in the collection.
  • A small group of Orange County (CA) grown-ups think there are naughty books in school libraries throughout the county. But they don’t want to make a big production. Just getting their feelings out there on local news, that’s all.
  • Related: voters recalled one of the openly anti-LGBTQ+ board members on the Orange County, California, school board.
  • Chickahominy District Supervisor Danielle Floyd (VA) wants to tell one of the county libraries how to run storytimes because a family got mad about a book read during storytime that featured same-sex parents. It’s fascism, homophobia, and a public library story rolled all into one.
  • At least one public library in Alabama opposes a proposed law that would put the power of the library board into the hands of legislators. This library is unique, too, in its structure.
  • “The effort to limit access to ‘inappropriate’ books at the Iron River Public Library now has the attentional of a national hate group as the debate enters a new phase. A handful of residents over the past several months have voiced their opinions at library board meetings about titles available through the library — almost all by authors of color or concerning LGBTQ+ topics. At the board’s Feb. 26 meeting, a member of a ‘pro-family activist organization’ from the East Coast joined the debate.” Bigots in the Iron River area of Wisconsin are complaining about LGBTQ+ books and inviting MassResistance into the fold.
  • While we’re in Wisconsin, why did Mauston Public School principals decide to implement BookLooks to pull every book rated 4 or 5 from libraries and classrooms? It wasn’t discussed nor approved by the school board.
  • Nine books in Albemarle County Schools (VA) have “instructional parameters” in place related to how they can be used in classrooms and discussions. Among them? Hatchett, A Bridge to Terebithia, Let’s Talk About It, and more. They’re not banned, of course, but their use must be limited.
  • “Elementary school students are speaking out against Charlotte-Mecklenburg [NC] school leaders’ decision to discontinue the use of an online library program.” Elementary. School. Students.
  • The Anderson County Library (SC) has been dealing with book banners who want to move Melissa from the youth section — where it belongs — to a different area. Now it looks like the library board will increase in size in a move we’ve seen before, indicating that it will shift to sympathize with book banners.
  • Redlands Schools (CA) debated this week whether or not to ban The Bluest Eye.
  • Wicomico County Schools (MD) will now limit book complaints to only residents in the county with students in the district. This seems…logical. And yet, it is somehow news.
  • “A book one Manheim Township School District [PA] parent asked to be removed from the high school library was removed because it had only been checked out twice in 14 years, not for content the parent labeled as ‘sexually inappropriate.'” We need to remember that checkout numbers are not the only measure of a book’s use, but it sure becomes a nice way to ban books. Books like these are likely read by kids IN THE LIBRARY and not checked out. 4,000 weeded books in two school years for this district is a lot of weeded books (sometimes weeding gets put off and requires a big weed, but it should not be happening when there is also book challenging going on in your district).
  • While Illinois has an anti-book ban bill, that doesn’t mean some schools or libraries are not trying to get around it.
  • Camden County Library (MO) has a new director, and he is addressing the nonstop nonsense over “pornography for kids” in the public library. But his “compromises” are not only censorship — moving books from children and teen areas to the adult area if there’s a challenged book there — but a deep invasion of children’s rights to privacy — calling their parents if they try to borrow a flagged book. Y I K E S.
  • In Dixfield schools (ME), the new book policy states that if a librarian reads “conflicting reviews” of a title, then it will be the superintendent’s job to make a decision. This completely undermines the professional experience and work of librarians, but okay!

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