California Governor Gavin Newsom is on the verge of signing a bill into law that has stirred up quite a storm among conservative circles after state lawmakers have given their nod to it. The legislation, known as AB 1078, is making waves as it prevents public school boards from banning certain books and educational materials related to gender and race.
California Senate Passes Bill Barring School Boards From Banning Gender, Race-Related Material https://t.co/iextguCeNa
— Brad Porcellato (@BradPorcellato) September 11, 2023
Introduced by Assemblyman Corey Jackson (D-CA) earlier this year, AB 1078, officially titled “Instructional materials and curriculum: diversity,” aims to prevent school boards from restricting state-approved materials that address topics related to Black history, Latino heritage, Asian culture, Native American traditions, and LGBTQ experiences. Violators of the law could face financial penalties.
“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,” said Jackson.
Newsom, a Democrat himself, is a strong supporter of AB 1078. He sees it as a way to ensure that families have the freedom to decide what’s best for their children’s education. According to him, “All students deserve the freedom to read and learn about the truth, the world, and themselves.”
While this might sound noble on the surface, some conservative voices in the state argue that it’s stripping power from parents and local school boards. They believe it’s part of a larger culture war, pushing critical race and radical gender theory-related material onto the youth.
Sen. Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh (R-CA) pointed out that the real issue here is ensuring age-appropriate materials in classrooms. She believes this legislation doesn’t address that core concern.
Sen. Kelly Seyarto (R-CA) thinks that the supporters of the bill are blowing the opposition out of proportion, arguing that “parents should have a right to be able to go up to their school board and voice their concern about the content of the material they’re being taught.”
The bill gained momentum after a school district in Temecula Valley had to backtrack on its decision to reject a state-approved curriculum. Governor Newsom had wielded the threat of a hefty $1.5 million fine and legal repercussions to make them reconsider.
The controversy centered on lessons about Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to public office in California. Critics raised concerns about his past and associations. Due to mounting legal pressures, the school board eventually voted unanimously to approve the curriculum for the upcoming school year.
It is not till the end of the school year that action will be taken on the controversial material about Milk and other LGBT-related and age-inappropriate content.