To push back against efforts to ban books, lawmakers in Illinois have passed and Gov JB Pritzker has signed a new law that prohibits book bans in public libraries and schools, The New York Times reports.
Mr Pritzker is a Democrat serving his second term as governor of the Land of Lincoln. Most of the push to ban books nationwide, primarily in red states, concerns books written about or by Black or LGBTQ authors.
“While certain hypocritical governors are banning books written by LGBTQ authors, but then claiming censorship when the media fact-checks them, we are showing the nation what it really looks like to stand up for liberty,” he was quoted as saying. “Everyone deserves to see themselves reflected in the books they read, the art they see, the history they learn.”
The law will take effect next year and comes with an exception allowing librarians to “limit books … based upon the age and development level of persons who will have access to those books.”
Similar legislation is now under consideration by lawmakers in New Jersey, which also has a Democratic-controlled state legislature.
In Indiana, on the other hand, The Times of Northwest Indiana reports, House Enrolled Act 1447 requires every public school board and charter school governing body to establish a procedure for the parent of any student, or any person residing in the school district, to request the removal of library materials deemed “obscene” or “harmful to minors.” Laws like this are being challenged in federal courts.
Republicans in Indiana have also claimed that school libraries are secretly loaded with pornography and other materials inappropriate for children. School officials could face jail time if convicted of allowing books that have been classified as obscene or harmful to minors to remain on the library shelves.