Sep 26, 2023 - Politics & Policy

California to fine schools that ban textbooks on race or LGBTQ+ topics

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks onstage during the Clinton Global Initiative September 2023 Meeting at New York Hilton Midtown on September 18, 2023 in New York City.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom during an event in New York City last week. Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images for Clinton Global Initiative

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed into law on Monday a bill prohibiting schools from banning books on racial or LGBTQ+ teachings that could result in fines for any authority in the state that defies the legislation.

Why it matters: The move against what Newsom calls "textbook censorship in schools" follows an unprecedented wave of book bans in Florida and across the U.S.

  • The legislation is in direct response to efforts by conservative leadership in some California school districts to censor or remove books — notably one in the Riverside County city of Temecula that opposed featuring content on slain San Francisco gay rights leader Harvey Milk.

What they're saying: "From Temecula to Tallahassee, fringe ideologues across the country are attempting to whitewash history and ban books from schools," Newsom said in a statment after signing the legislation that took immediate effect Monday.

  • "With this new law, we're cementing California's role as the true freedom state: a place where families — not political fanatics — have the freedom to decide what's right for them."

Go deeper: California officials aim to halt book bans to "preserve freedom"

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