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Governor signs landmark bill penalizing "Book Bans" in schools

Julie Reeder


In a controversial move, Gov. Newsom signed AB 1078 into law on Sept. 25. The bill, proposed by Democrat Assemblyman Corey Jackson from Moreno Valley, seeks to penalize school boards that “ban books” and educational materials based solely on content relating to the history of Black, Latino, Asian, Native American, LGBTQ+ individuals, and other groups.

This law had nothing to do with Black, Latino, Asian, or Native American studies. It is clearly strong-arming and an authoritarian response to recent LGBTQ+ curriculum and library book controversies in schools.

So anytime a school administration or school board wants to reject a book or curriculum it’s officially “banning” books? So scary! So evil! Aren’t we lucky to have the California legislature to save us from these horrible school boards and administrations?

Local school boards, such as Temecula Valley Unified School District, have repeatedly stated that their decision to not include some books in their school libraries or classrooms has everything to do with the explicit nature and the age-appropriateness of the content.

The new law will amend the existing education code, which mandates the inclusion of diverse racial, ethnic, and LGBTQ+ experiences and perspectives in school curriculums.

Laws or education code already mandates the inclusion of diverse ethnic and sexual preference histories and perspectives.

When you mandate LGBTQ+ experiences, does that mean you have to include the reading material recently “banned” by some school boards and school administrations which details a gay man’s “experience” where he graphically depicts himself as a six-year-old giving oral copulation to men in the neighborhood?

When rejecting this material, does this mean those school board members hate gay people? Of course not. They are making responsible decisions with the discretion parents have trusted them to make.

To call it “book banning” is gas-lighting.

Why don’t we watch porn in classrooms? Because it’s obviously not appropriate. Not because people hate men or women or transpeople or whoever is in the video, but because it’s simply not age-appropriate.

Why don’t you use college age chemistry materials for kindergarteners? Same reason. It’s not age appropriate, but no one would accuse the administration or the school board of “banning” the college curriculum.

It’s just ridiculous. Special interest groups and politicians who tout how compasssionate they are and supportive of LGBTQ+ kids don’t need to push sexually inappropriate materials on little children in our public schools.

This is why local government decisions are best. There are too many other interests paying politicians and fighting for normalization that don’t need to have direct influence on our 8-year-old boys and girls.

Gov. Newsom and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond have been unwavering supporters of AB 1078, which passed the Legislature along party lines. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) praised the bill's objectives, stating, “To achieve equity in our public schools requires that students of all backgrounds see themselves reflected and respected in libraries, curricula, and classroom discussions.”

Again, it has nothing to do with achieving equity.

The California School Boards Association opposed the move, pointing to the fact that the state has established processes for adopting curricula. They argued that AB 1078 would heighten tensions between the state and local school boards. The Orange County Board of Education voiced its concerns, stating it was heavy handed and that school districts are competent in making these decisions and the responsibility should remain with the local school boards.

In announcing his decision to sign the bill, Gov. Newsom criticized what he sees as a “cultural purge” and the "criminalizing of teachers and librarians.” He emphasized, “This is long overdue, and this banning binge has to come to an end.”

It’s ridiculous gas-lighting. Of course none of these crazy materials are probably being used in the expensive and highly protected schools Gov. Newsom has been sending his children to.

The Governor and the Attorney General have lost a number of legal fights against school districts lately, thank goodness, even with the nine circuit.


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