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Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi's California Freedom to Read Act Passes the Assembly Floor

For immediate release:

Bill will fight book bans at public libraries

Torrance, CA – Assembly Bill 1825, the California Freedom to Read Act, introduced by Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), Chair of the Assembly Education Committee, passed the Assembly Floor with bipartisan support. 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 based on race, nationality, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, disability, political affiliation, or socioeconomic status. The bill will also require public libraries to develop a collection development policy, which includes how the public can challenge library materials.

"The California Freedom to Read Act will 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."

"Across California, we are seeing growing efforts to ban books and restrict the freedom to read, learn, and think, resulting in harmful policies that misleadingly characterize books as 'age inappropriate' or 'obscene' to censure materials that humanize LGBTQ+ people and experiences," said Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang. "AB 1825 is an important and timely measure to 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."

"Public libraries are a cornerstone of our communities, ensuring that people, regardless of age, income, education, race, or geographic location, have free and open access to information so they can meaningfully engage in civic life. Politically motivated censorship has no place in California." Cynthia Valencia, Legislative Advocate, ACLU California Action

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 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