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Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi Introduces the California Freedom to Read Act to Fight Book Bans at Public Libraries

For immediate release:

Assembly Bill 1825 passes Education Committee

Torrance, CA - Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), Chair of the Assembly Education Committee, introduced Assembly Bill 1825, the California Freedom to Read Act, which passed the Education Committee yesterday. This bill would prohibit public libraries from banning books or other materials because of the topic, views, ideas, or opinions contained in the materials, or in a manner that discriminates on the basis of race, nationality, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, disability, political affiliation, or socioeconomic status. The bill also prohibits public libraries from banning materials that may include sexual content, unless that content qualifies as obscene under United States Supreme Court precedent.

"I am introducing the California Freedom to Read Act to fight book bans at public libraries," said Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi. "Libraries provide a special place in the public's civic education and the free exchange of diverse ideas and information. Our freedom to read is a cornerstone of our democracy. Unfortunately, there is a growing movement to ban books across the country, including in California. Book banning proponents are disproportionately targeting materials containing the voices and lived experiences of LGBTQ and communities of color. We need to fight this movement to ensure that Californians have access to books that offer diverse perspectives from people of all backgrounds, ideas, and beliefs."

"Learning and engaging with diverse ideas is foundational to any healthy democracy. The recent call by some to limit access to books does more than suppress the subject matter – it also disregards the lived experiences and identities of authors and readers, said Cynthia Valencia, Legislative Advocate, ACLU California Action. "We must protect the fundamental First Amendment right of access to diverse and inclusive information at our public libraries."

"Equality California recognizes the dangers of omitting history and silencing diverse viewpoints — book bans aim to rob LGBTQ+ people and other marginalized groups of the ability to contextualize their own experiences, histories, and culture," said Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang. "During these dangerous times for our community, we refuse to be silenced or erased. AB 1825 will ensure that our public libraries remain committed to intellectual diversity and grant all Californians the ability to see their own stories and communities reflected in the books they read."

According to the American Library Association (ALA), the number of reported book challenges in the United States increased 65 percent from 2022 to 2023, reaching the highest level ever documented by the ALA. Pressure groups in 2023 focused on public libraries as well as school libraries. The number of book titles targeted for censorship at public libraries increased by 92 percent over the previous year, while school libraries saw an 11 percent increase over 2022 numbers. Book titles containing subject matter on LGBTQ and communities of color made up 47 percent of those targeted in censorship attempts. In California, in communities such as the City of Huntington Beach and Fresno County, there were 52 challenges to 98 book titles in public libraries and school libraries in 2023, compared to 32 attempts to ban 87 titles in 2022.

Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi represents California's 66th Assembly District, which includes El Segundo, Gardena, Hermosa Beach, Lomita, Los Angeles, Manhattan Beach, Palos Verdes Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates, San Pedro and Torrance. Muratsuchi is Chair of the Assembly Education Committee, Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Aerospace, and a member of the Committees on Budget, Budget Subcommittee on Education, Higher Education, Natural Resources, and the Joint Legislative Committee on Climate Change Policies.

CONTACT: Kerry Jacob, 310-806-0893