Newsom Signs Controversial Book Ban Law Into Effect

Last week, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill that prevents school boards from rejecting instructional materials or library books that feature content focused on race, sexual orientation, or gender identity, the Associated Press reported.

Calling the law “long overdue,” Newsom blasted the “fringe ideologues” in state governments across the country whom he claimed are “attempting to whitewash history and ban books from schools.” Newsom said that the new California law will cement the state’s “role as the true freedom state.”

The bill gained heightened attention this summer after the school board from the Temecula Valley Unified School District in Southern California rejected an elementary school social studies curriculum that included supplementary material about the late San Francisco politician and activist Harvey Milk, a gay man who allegedly preyed on young men.

In 2011, California enacted a law that required schools to teach about the historical contributions of Americans who were gay, bisexual, or transgender. When the school board rejected the material on Harvey Milk, Newsom threatened to fine the district $1.5 million.

The board later voted to approve a modified curriculum that met the requirements laid out in the 2011 law.

According to a press release from Governor Newsom’s office, the legislation signed last week prevents school boards from banning library books or instructional materials that provide “inclusive and diverse perspectives in compliance with state law.”

The bill passed the California Legislature after heated debates over the role the state is allowed to have in approving curricula for local school districts versus the role lawmakers should have to ensure students are exposed to diversity.

The governor also signed into law legislation to increase penalties for child traffickers that was blocked by Democrats in the state Assembly’s Public Safety Committee earlier this year over concerns that the measure would inadvertently penalize the victims of trafficking.