State By State, the Battle Over Banning Books in Schools Continues
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State By State, the Battle Over Banning Books in Schools Continues

Illinois moved to protect books from bans while Texas outlawed 'sexually explicit' material in libraries

If you thought the fight over banning books in school libraries was winding down for the summer, you're mistaken. States are moving to pass laws and teachers and librarians are still facing reprimands for things like introducing in the classroom widely praised literature that discusses race.

In a surprise move, the state of Illinois this week signed into law penalties for libraries that ban books; they'll have funds withheld if they engage in the practice. Governor J.B. Pritzker said in signing the bill into law that book bans "are about censorship, marginalizing people, marginalizing ideas and facts… All Illinoisans deserve to see themselves reflected in the books that they read, the art that they see, the history they learn." As WBEZ pointed out, this is effectively a ban on book bans.

Before presumably dropping a metaphorical mic, the governor said, "Regimes ban books, not democracies."

Related: A Children's Book Publisher Got Tangled Up in the Critical Race Theory War

Meanwhile in Opposite World, Texas governor Greg Abbott signed a very different regime-y law the same week: one that bans sexually explicit material. The trash-language-titled "Restricting Explicit and Adult-Designated Educational Resources Act" bans schools from buying books that are "sexually explicit, pervasively vulgar, or educationally unsuitable," which, if any of those three are a measure, could probably eliminate 90 percent of books from a school library, including Naughty, Naughty Monster, which was written by a different Greg Abbott. (Nevertheless, "naughty" is right there in the title).

In case you think Illinois' right-side-of-history move is a sign that banning might be coming to an end, South Carolina has something to say: A high school teacher there was prevented from teaching Ta-Nehisi Coates' beloved book Between the World and Me after students complained that it violated a state law on teaching race-related material. This sounds a lot like Florida, where even mentioning race in a classroom can get a teacher in trouble.

So, yes, as a nation, we're still in Dystopiaville for the foreseeable future.