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Illinois governor signs law stripping libraries of state funding for banning books

The law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2024.

Published: June 12, 2023 11:00pm

(The Center Square) -

Illinois Democrat Gov. J.B. Pritzker has signed into law a measure that withholds funding from any of the state's 1,600 public or school libraries that remove books from shelves.

Libraries that adhere to the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, which states that books should not be removed because of partisan or personal disapproval, will continue to get state funding.

Pritzker said there were 67 attempts to ban books in Illinois in 2022.

The ALA reports about 1,200 such challenges across the country over the past year, nearly double from the previous year.

“Book bans are about censorship, marginalizing people, marginalizing ideas and facts,” he said.

Attempts to ban books have been at the center or recent culture wars – with most of the disagreements being over whether books LGBTQ+ culture and transgenderism are appropriate for child of all age. And in more extreme cases, critics have argued such books are an attempt to "indoctrinate" children into such culture.

Republican state Sen. Jason Plummer opposes Pritzker's new law, arguing it's unfair to take public funds from people whose taxes pay for the library grants and it takes control away from local officials.

“It allows unelected and unidentified, random people, some organization at the national level to set local policy and to usurp the authority of the local elected officials that our constituents voted into their position to make decisions on their behalf,” Plummer said.

Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias disagrees with the argument the new law centralizes control over decisions. Giannoulias says local librarians “have the educational and professional experience to determine what’s in circulation. Let them decide.”

Giannoulias said he became involved after parents in the township of Downers Grove complained to the school board about the book, “Gender Queer: A Memoir,” by Maia Kobabe, which includes graphic sexual images. The board voted last spring to keep the book on the shelves.

The law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2024.

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