Illinois Outlaws Book Bans With New Law

( – Fresh on the heels of efforts in many states that have Republican-majority legislatures, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker has signed off on a law intended to prevent book banning in the state. The Illinois law is the first of its kind in the United States and will deny funding to any library in the state that attempts to prohibit a book from being placed on its shelves. The legislation will go into effect on the first of the year.

Proponents of the new law are praising it as a victory for the First Amendment. Pritzker said before signing off on the legislation that book bans take place in dictatorships, but should not be imposed in a democracy. Restricting access to books is about censorship and the marginalization of people, ideas, and facts, he said.

Opponents of the legislation, and of similar efforts around the country, point out that the narrative surrounding the issue of book bans appears to be consistently framed as a matter of hindering access to books about themes related to the LQBTQ+ community. Likewise, topics pertaining to minority groups of color are also brought up. In both cases, proponents appear to frame opponents as engaging in thoughts and actions that are discriminatory or even dangerous in nature.

Whereas one side may feel a book is being restricted simply because it was written by a minority author, the other side may cite content related to critical race theory. One side feels the topic is healthy for children, but the other does not. Similarly, while one side may see a book written by an LGBTQ+ author for children who identify as such, others may see the often graphic depictions of intimacy in both written and visual form as inappropriate for younger audiences. An 11-year-old student from Maine was recently caught up in controversy when he went on television and described a book he found in his school library as, “extremely graphic content.”

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