In a groundbreaking move, Illinois has become the first state in the nation to pass a law against book bans, Your Content has learned.
Responding to mounting pressure on school boards to restrict certain materials in school libraries, Governor JB Pritzker signed the bill into law, effectively curbing Republican-supported efforts to limit access to books that delve into contentious topics like race, inequality, gender, sex, and LGBTQ+ issues.
During the bill signing event at a children’s library in downtown Chicago, Governor Pritzker emphasized the importance of countering the influence of dangerous ideologies, stating, “I refuse to let a dangerous strain of white nationalism determine whose histories are told in Illinois.”
He highlighted that book bans ultimately amount to censorship, marginalizing people, ideas, and facts.
The new law, slated to take effect on January 1st, mandates that Illinois public libraries adopt the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights.
This crucial document asserts that materials should not be prohibited or removed due to partisan or doctrinal objections.
Libraries found to restrict or ban materials on such grounds will become ineligible for state funding.
The American Library Association’s recent report revealed a concerning trend, with over 2,500 books facing objections last year alone, compared to 1,858 in 2021 and a mere 566 in 2019.
Most of these complaints originated from conservatives, targeting books exploring LGBTQ+ themes, racial issues, and inequality.
Notable titles under scrutiny include Maia Kobabe’s “Gender Queer,” Jonathan Evison’s “Lawn Boy,” Angie Thomas’ “The Hate U Give,” and “The 1619 Project,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning work by The New York Times tracing the roots of systemic racism in the United States to slavery.
While approximately half of all U.S. states already have laws regulating the teaching of race, discrimination, and privilege in public schools, Illinois took action to counter the mounting pressure on school boards to ban specific materials from libraries.
Democratic Representative Anne Stava-Murray, the legislation’s sponsor, emphasized the importance of avoiding a one-size-fits-all approach imposed by local government to address objections, stating, “While it’s true that kids need guidance and that some ideas can be objectionable, trying to weaponize local government… is wrong.”
Illinois’ landmark law against book bans serves as a beacon of progress, promoting a diverse and inclusive environment that encourages reading, critical thinking, and exposure to different perspectives, according U.S. News.