Illinois Becomes First State to Outlaw Book Bans

Illinois Becomes First State to Outlaw Book Bans

Illinois has become the first state in the U.S. to outlaw book bans in all libraries, including those in public schools.

Many school districts in Illinois have a history of banning books. Some recent examples being “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas, which was banned by ROWVA Community United School District 228 and “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabeb, which was banned in both Community High School District 117 and Harlem School District 122.  

Book bans in the U.S. reached an all-time high in 2022 as parents have been issuing complaints about books at extremely high rates.  

“Last year, more than 2,500 different books were objected to, compared to 1,858 in 2021 and just 566 in 2019. In numerous cases, hundreds of books were challenged in a single complaint,” according to the Associated Press.  

A pattern in these book bans, according to English teacher and librarian Leah Sauvage, is that “book bans disproportionately affect authors from marginalized communities, such as authors of color and LGBTQIA+ writers.”  

Sauvage believes that this new law will have a very positive impact on opening the minds of students.  

“Governor [J.B.] Pritzker’s decision ensures that students have access to literature that reflects the rich tapestry of human experience,” Sauvage elaborated, continuing that the law “allows a wide range of books to be available in our schools and celebrates the contributions of diverse authors.”

There is opposition to this law, however, such as in Republican House Minority Leader Tony McCombie. McCombie argues that the decision of how controversial books are handled should be dealt with locally.  

According to an emailed statement by McCombie, “Our caucus does not believe in banning books, but we do believe that the content of books should be considered in their placement on the shelves.” 

Pritzker, who signed this bill into law, offers a much different perspective from McCombie. He believes that book bans are never moral, and stated that “book bans are about censorship, marginalizing people, marginalizing ideas and facts. Regimes banned books, not democracies.”

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