Banning: The state legislature passes a bill against banning books

OLYMPIA, WA (MyBellinghamNow.com) – Lawmakers in Olympia are considering a bill that would make it illegal for school districts to ban certain books.

The Senate passed HB 2331 on Thursday by a vote of 29-20, with Democrats voting in favor of the bill and Republicans voting against it. The bill would prevent school boards from banning any book or material based on its relationship to a group deemed “protected” under state law.

That means boards cannot discriminate against books because of their association with race, religion, sexual orientation or other protected classes. School districts could still prevent individual students from accessing certain books if their parent or guardian files a complaint.

Democratic Senator Emily Randall of the Kitsap Peninsula spoke in favor of the bill.

“It is so important that we stand up and stand with young people who may not feel welcome in their classrooms, in their school districts or in their communities,” said Senator Randall. “But [they do] find a welcoming place in a book that reflects them.”

But Republican Sen. Ann Rivers of La Center argued that parents and school boards should have a say in what books students have access to.

“We must put this bill aside and take action again on something that does not alienate parents and school boards and does not harm democracy at the local level,” said Senator Rivers.

The bill now goes to Governor Jay Inslee for review.

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