State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond celebrated the signing of Assembly Bill 1078, which bans “book bans” in schools, prohibits censorship of instructional materials and strengthens California law requiring schools to provide all students access to textbooks that teach about California’s diverse communities.
AB 1078, an urgency statute, took effect immediately when it was signed on Monday, Sept. 25 and California is only one of two states enacting a law to halt book bans. AB 1078 was one of several bills Thurmond sponsored to strengthen supports for more inclusive education that were recently signed by california Governor Gavin Newsom.
“AB 1078 sends a strong signal to the people of California, but also to every American, that in the Golden State, we don’t ban books, we cherish them,” said Thurmond. “This law will serve as a model for the nation that California recognizes and understands the moment we are in—and while some want to roll back the clock on progress, we are doubling down on forward motion. Rather than limiting access to education and flat-out banning books like other states, we are embracing and expanding opportunities for knowledge and education, because that’s the California way. While other states ban books as a means to suppress facts, erase history and reverse efforts of inclusion and diversity, AB 1078 prevents attempts to ban literature and other education-based books that promote inclusion and diversity. This will help ensure that Black, Native American, Latinx, Asian American and Pacific Islander, LGBTQ+ students and students with disabilities are seen, heard and reflected in their instructional materials.”
AB 1078 also provides the Superintendent of Public Instruction the authority to buy textbooks for students in a school district, recoup costs and assess a financial penalty if a school board willfully chooses to not provide sufficient standards-aligned instructional materials for students. The law also prohibits school boards from banning instructional materials or library books on the basis that they provide inclusive and diverse perspectives in compliance with state law.
The California Department of Education and Thurmond have made inclusive education a priority against a backdrop of culture wars being waged by states and some California school districts. Earlier this year, Thurmond launched a Task Force on Inclusive Education to work with textbook publishers to diversify the content that students see in instructional materials.
Other inclusion measures supported and sponsored by Thurmond and signed into law this week include:
AB 5 requiring schools serving grades 7 to twelve in California to provide staff training to support LGBTQ+ pupils.
Senate Bill 760 requiring all K–12 schools in California to provide appropriate and equitable access to all-gender restrooms for students to use during school hours.
SB 857 establishing an advisory task force to identify the needs of LGBTQ+ pupils and to make recommendations to assist in implementing supportive policies and initiatives to address LGBTQ+ pupil education and well-being.