Illinois has become the first state in the United States to pass a law that prohibits book bans.
The legislation comes as a response to efforts to restrict access to books that address controversial topics such as race, gender, and LGBTQ+ issues in red states.
Under the new law, Illinois public libraries must adhere to the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, which prohibits the removal of materials based on partisan or doctrinal disapproval. Libraries that fail to comply will lose state funding.
“The argument for banning books always begins with the claim that it’s about protecting the children, and yes, of course, we all want to protect our children so they’re reading age-appropriate material,” said Gov. JB Pritzker speaking at the Harold Washington Library Center. “But banning books from libraries isn’t about that at all. Book bans are about censorship, marginalizing people, marginalizing ideas and facts. Regimes ban books, not democracies.”
According to a report American Library Association, attempts to ban books reached record highs in 2022.