SACRAMENTO, California (LifeSiteNews) — School officials who decide that some books are not appropriate for all ages could face state investigation, California authorities warned during a recent letter.
Governor Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Rob Bonta, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond sent a letter on June 1 to public school leaders across the state, warning them of consequences for making local decision on books.
The trio cited research by PEN America on “banned books,” to claim that “1,447 books were banned nationally,” during this most recent school year. A Heritage Foundation analysis of PEN America’s claims as they related to data from 2021-22 found the group made inaccurate claims about the extent of book “bans.” They called the claim of widespread book bans “simply false” because it “examined online card catalogues and found that 74 percent of the books PEN America identified as banned from school libraries are actually listed as available in the catalogues of those school districts.” It is not clear if the same errors were in the most recent report.
The letter explained that anyone who made a decision to remove books could trigger a statewide investigation. The trio laid out the different ways officials might interrogate school authorities.
“If your local education agency does remove or ban instructional materials from classrooms or libraries, you may be requested to provide the Attorney General’s Office with materials to allow it to analyze your agency’s actions or procedures,” the letter stated.
The state authorities promised to request piles of paperwork as part of the process, including “all policies and procedures” on the First Amendment and any “complaints” received in relation to the materials removed.
“Please be prepared to respond to requests for information in the event the Attorney General’s office reaches out,” the letter warned.
The threatening of school officials and librarians is becoming a common tactic of the nation’s liberal states. Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has legislation sitting on his desk that would defund libraries that decide certain materials are not appropriate for all ages.
The law stipules that “in order to be eligible for State grants, a public library or library system shall develop a written policy prohibiting the practice of banning books within the public library or library system.” The legislation had the backing of left-wing groups including Planned Parenthood and the state National Organization of Women chapter.
“Banning books is a devastating attempt to erase our history and the authentic stories of many,” Governor Pritzker said in March, in support of the legislation. “Students across this state deserve to see themselves reflected in the pages of stories that teach and entertain. I’m proud to support House Bill 2789 and ensure that Illinois’ libraries remain sources of knowledge, creativity, and fact.”
Obscene content in schools has faced pushback from parents, concerned citizens
However, content in school libraries and the curriculum has faced criticism from conservatives and parental right activists, oftentimes due to the pornographic content.
For example, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis held a press conference to detail the inappropriate material found in some books in public schools. At least one news station cut the feed when he started showing the actual material because it was deemed inappropriate for their viewers to see. There has been multiple documented cases of school board members telling parents and activists not to read out loud from books found in the school because children might hear what they are saying.
WFLA reporter Mahsa Saeidi acknowledged on Twitter that the channel decided to stop its live feed while the video was presented after journalists were apprised of the sort of content the Florida governor would be revealing, LifeSiteNews previously reported.
“When we were told sexually explicit content would be shown – we went down,” Saeidi said. “I am not disputing that. I emailed my newsroom, concerned.”
“I think some of the news had to cut the feed because it’s graphic,” DeSantis said in response to news that WFLA had opted not to air the segment, going on to point out that opposition to his so-called “book bans” has fed into a “false political narrative.”
The fight over whether parents and other citizens should be able to have a voice in what is appropriate for kids to consume was heightened with federal involvement by President Joe Biden’s administration. In October 2021, Attorney General Merrick Garland ordered federal authorities to be ready to prosecute parents and other citizens who spoke out against COVID regulations and the framing of sex and race discussion in classrooms.
The United States House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary and the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government concluded there was “no legitimate basis” for this targeting.