SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Local politicians would be prevented from banning books in public libraries under a new bill passed by state Rep. Anne Stava-Murray, D-Downers Grove, which empowers librarians and prevents book banning.
“Banning books is the sort of behavior that was once—for good reason—associated with the worst, most repressive and repugnant authoritarian regimes of the mid-20th century and before. The fact that this is even up for discussion in America in the 21st century is disgusting,” Stava-Murray said. “State funds should not be used to support programs or activities that are set up in a way that excludes certain groups or restricts their stories from being seen and heard. Those who wish to restrict people’s access to diverse ideas and points of view should do it themselves, instead of trying to use local government as a cudgel.”
Stava-Murray’s House Bill 2789 would require libraries to agree to reject external attempts to ban certain books in order to be eligible for state grants. It was initially an initiative of the office of the Illinois Secretary of State who, among other duties, serves as the state’s principal Librarian. Stava-Murray led the bill through the House in part because of events in her district last year, when local school boards were subject to pressure and protests by groups demanding certain books be banned from school libraries. Some board members faced harassment. Stava-Murray highlighted the example of kids who successfully agitated against a ban of the book, ‘Gender Queer’, but said that kids shouldn’t have to be the heroes when adults try to impose partisan censorship.
“Like Governor Pritzker, I believe in an Illinois where children are not lied to—in which they ‘learn our true history, warts and all’,” Stava-Murray said. “Calling this part of an ‘agenda’ is ridiculous. Rather, it is those who seek to rewrite, censor, ban and selectively edit history and the stories of others in order to advance an incomplete and misleading partisan narrative who are pursuing an agenda—and I don’t think we should let them get away with it.”
Stava-Murray’s office is reachable at 630-605-0595 or firstname.lastname@example.org.