California Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to sign into law a bill barring public school districts from banning books and curriculum related to gender and racial diversity.
Assembly Bill 1078 passed in the state Senate last week, largely along party lines, and now heads to Newsom’s desk.
The bill had passed overwhelmingly in the Assembly in May – at around the same time the issue came to a head with the Temecula Valley Unified School District’s vote to reject elementary school curriculum that mentioned Harvey Milk, California’s first openly gay elected official.
“My question is, why even mention a pedophile?” School Board President Joseph Komrosky said at the time.
AB 1078, sponsored by Assemblyman Corey Jackson (D-Moreno) would financially penalize school boards that enact bans on books and education material related to Black, Latino, Asian, Native American and LGBTQ topics, provided they are part of an approved school curriculum.
“We’re taking a firm stand against book banning in California’s schools, ensuring that our students have access to a broad range of educational materials that accurately represent the rich cultural and racial diversity of our society,” Jackson said.
The Harvey Milk debate in Temecula has played out in many other forms and in many other school districts statewide and nationwide.
Conservative school boards and parents argue that curricula ranging from LGBTQ topics to Critical race theory are either not age-appropriate for younger students, radical or, in some cases, anti-American.
“We’re not having the conversation at the core of the issue, which is age-appropriate materials,” Sen. Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh (R-Yucaipa) told The Sacramento Bee.
Critics of the bill argue decisions about local curriculum should be made at the local level.
Newsom signaled his support for AB 1078 after it passed in the state Senate last Thursday.
“California is the true freedom state: a place where families — not political fanatics — have the freedom to decide what’s right for them,” Newsom said. “All students deserve the freedom to read and learn about the truth, the world, and themselves.”