Illinois Moves To Ban Book Banning, Consolidate State Control of Education

State officials hail it as a victory for democratic principles and First Amendment rights.

Photo by qiwei yang / Unsplash

What’s happening: An Illinois bill that passed in the Legislature would prohibit school libraries from banning books. As a prerequisite for state funding, libraries will need to affirm in writing that they will refrain from banning books or other materials. Pending the expected signature of Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, the legislation would make Illinois the first state to legally ban book bans. State officials hail it as a victory for democratic principles and First Amendment rights.

The reality: This is seen as a countermove to states like Florida that have moved to expunge certain books from school libraries. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, refutes claims of banning books, arguing that they are accessible statewide like any other books—except in schools where parents deem them inappropriate.

What’s in the books: A significant number of books marked for removal, as reported by Upward News, cover subjects like transgenderism, sexual identity, and racial politics. While DeSantis's actions have been met with heavy media criticism, they remain popular within Florida. Now some states, like Illinois and New Jersey, are trying to make it harder to remove books. (In New Jersey, some of the texts available in libraries encourage minors to seek out orgies and depict sexual scenes.)

Parental rights: DeSantis's recent educational initiatives in Florida also place a strong emphasis on parental rights. Through enacted legislation, parents are empowered to challenge books they deem inappropriate in school libraries and curriculums. This gives parents more influence over the educational system. Illinois, and now New Jersey, are taking the opposite approach, seeking to keep educational decision-making under government control.