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Illinois Threatens to Defund Libraries Banning LGBT Content After Becoming First State to Outlaw Book Bans

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Illinois public libraries that respond to requests from their communities to ban books will be stripped of state funding under a new law signed Monday by Democratic Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

“Book bans are about censorship; marginalizing people, marginalizing ideas and facts. Regimes ban books, not democracies,” Pritzker said, according to CBS.

Pritzker said the law is the first in the nation to defy efforts to restrict books.

Illinois public libraries that restrict access to or ban a book due to what the law calls “partisan or doctrinal” disapproval will lose their state funding as of Jan. 1, 2024, according to the Associated Press.

“We are not saying that every book should be in every single library,”  Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias said.

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“What this law does is it says, let’s trust our experience and education of our librarians to decide what books should be in circulation,” she said.

However, Republicans who waged a losing effort against the law said communities should be able to set standards, according to WLS-TV.

“I find this a complete assault on local control,” Republican state Rep. Martin McLaughlin said.

“These people volunteer as nonpartisan elected local officials, and for the state to tell a local library board, ‘listen to the professionals; follow the professionals’ – I don’t understand why we have local elections anymore if a bill like this passes,” he said.

Should public libraries serving children be forced to ban age-inappropriate content?

Republican Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer said parents should not be denied a voice.

“I am not for banning books at all. I am for age-appropriate materials. And so, if a parent wants their kid to have those age-appropriate materials, they can certainly get them for them. I don’t think that a librarian is the end-all, be-all decision maker in the state of Illinois on what books should be given to a child,” Davidsmeyer said.

However, the bill was presented as an effort to push back against efforts that have led to books being removed from school and local libraries.

“Illinois legislation responds to disturbing circumstances of censorship and an environment of suspicion,” Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom and executive director of the Freedom to Read Foundation, said, according to the AP.

The bill says Illinois public libraries must have a written policy prohibiting book bans, or they must adopt the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, which says “materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation,” or make a similar statement of their own

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Democratic state Rep. Anne Stava-Murray told the AP a community should not be held hostage to what some of its members believe.

“While it’s true that kids need guidance, and that some ideas can be objectionable, trying to weaponize local government to force one-size-fits-all standards onto the entire community for reasons of bigotry, or as a substitute for active and involved parenting, is wrong,” Stava-Murray said.

Pritzker painted the law as an effort to allow any idea to be shared.

“Young people shouldn’t be kept from learning about the realities of our world; I want them to become critical thinkers, exposed to ideas that they disagree with, proud of what our nation has overcome and thoughtful about what comes next,” Pritzker said, according to United Press International.

“Everyone deserves to see themselves reflected in the books they read, the art they see, the history they learn. In Illinois, we are showing the nation what it really looks like to stand up for liberty,” he said.

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Jack Davis is a freelance writer who joined The Western Journal in July 2015 and chronicled the campaign that saw President Donald Trump elected. Since then, he has written extensively for The Western Journal on the Trump administration as well as foreign policy and military issues.
Jack Davis is a freelance writer who joined The Western Journal in July 2015 and chronicled the campaign that saw President Donald Trump elected. Since then, he has written extensively for The Western Journal on the Trump administration as well as foreign policy and military issues.
Jack can be reached at jackwritings1@gmail.com.
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