‘Ban on book bans’ introduced in Minnesota Legislature

Published 8:53 pm Thursday, March 21, 2024

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By Peter Cox

New legislation would prohibit banning books in public and school libraries based on content or subjective objections.

The bill, which some are calling ‘a ban on book bans,’ has been introduced in both the Minnesota House and the Minnesota Senate.

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“I’ve got three daughters, and my goal as a parent is to make sure they’re critical thinkers, make sure that they can take care of themselves, make sure they can think for themselves, make sure they can challenge when they need to challenge,” said Rep. Cedrick Frazier, DFL-New Hope, the author of the House bill.

“That is how we prepare our kids and our youth for the world. So anytime I see a movement that is about shutting off the very thing, the very ideals that can allow for our kids to be those critical thinkers, for our kids to be the next not only state and regional, and national leaders, but world leaders. I have a problem with that.”

The legislation comes as other states have made steps to restrict books from schools and libraries, such as Texas and Florida.

Several state officials spoke in support of the bill Thursday at Como Park Senior High School, including Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan.

“When we value our students, they see themselves reflected in their education, they in turn value that education,” Flanagan said. “It is a powerful, powerful tool, so the fact that folks are trying to take that away from our students, I just don’t get it. When my kid is excited about a book, it is a win. Right?”

The American Library Association reports there were 1,247 attempts to censor library materials in 2023, challenging more than 4,200 titles. That’s up around 2,600 titles targeted in the previous year.

Their report says titles representing voices of LGBTQIA+ and Black, Indigenous or People of Color made up 47 percent of the titles targeted by censorship.

Gov. Tim Walz, who strongly backs the bill, said it is an issue he sees no gray area in.

“Those who have asked for book bans have never been on the right side of history, they have never been viewed as being the folks that were the heroes of freedom, they have never been viewed as the people that were looking out for others,” he said. “Trying to tell someone else’s children that they can’t read The Hobbit, or whatever it might be, you’re in the wrong.”