California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday evening signed a bill into law barring school boards from banning books, instructional materials or curricula labeled as inclusive or diverse.
“Remarkable that we’re living in a country right now in this banning binge, this cultural purge that we’re experiencing all throughout America, and now increasingly here in the state of California, where we have school districts large and small banning books, banning free speech, criminalizing librarians and teachers. And we want to do more than just push back rhetorically against that, and that’s what this legislation provides,” Newsom said in a video shared on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
Assembly Bill 1078 comes as a direct response to California school district boards voting to ban books promoting racial diversity or LGBTQ figures.
The author of the bill, Moreno Valley Democratic Assemblyman Corey Jackson, told The Bee when it passed earlier this month that supporters of the bill are “on the right side of history.”
In May, the Temecula Unified School District voted to reject elementary school social studies curricula that mentioned slain San Francisco Board of Supervisors member Harvey Milk, the first openly gay politician elected to public office in California. Though the board later backed down, in the face of Newsom’s threat to fine the district $1.5 million, other school systems have likewise considered banning books that mention of racial justice or LGBTQ equality.
The bill was opposed by conservatives who contended that it will take away the voice of locally elected school board members and parents who object to materials they find inappropriate for their children.
Supporters of the bill argued that book banning amounts to government censorship, and that the practice has a troubling history and association with dark moments in the past.
Because AB 1078 passed as an urgency measure, with two-thirds of the Legislature supporting it, it immediately becomes law.