Illinois is about to become the first state to punish public institutions that ban books.
Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker has said he supports a House bill that would withhold state funding from any of the state's 1,600 public or school libraries that remove books from their shelves, Politico reported.
The final version of House Bill 2789 passed the state Senate 39 to 19 after a contentious debate along party lines; in March, the state House okayed the measure 66 to 39.
Politico said the catalyst for the legislation came from newly elected Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias, whose office oversees library systems and their funding. He told the outlet, "[Book-banning] is so blatant, and so dangerous. I was blown away."
Recently, Windy City Times noted that openly gay Illinois state Sen. Mike Simmons (D-7th District) stated that he had nine House bills pass out of committee. In addition, Simmons mentioned one more bill he authoredSenate Bill 689, which prevents books from being banned in Illinois. According to Simmons, "SB 689, originally filed as SB1812, prohibits library systems, school districts, school boards, and trustees of a library or village library from limiting access to or prohibiting the purchase of books or materials related to autobiographies, biographies, memoirs, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, sexual and reproductive health, gender identity, religion, human rights activism, or any other subject."
When Windy City Times asked Simmons if he intends on going ahead with his measure, which reaches further than HB2789, he emailed, "Yes, my bill does go farther to outlaw banning books in classrooms, libraries, community centers, and all publicly funded facilities. I expect my bill to move through the House in the next week or so.
"My bill also, in addition to prohibiting bans, prohibits bans on the PURCHASE or sourcing of certain books, and also includes explicit protections for targeted groups and topics including books related to race, gender identity, books with LGBTQ protagonists, and autobiographies, to name a few of the protected categories."
The American Library Association (ALA) recently released its highly anticipated list of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2022 across the country. Several LGBTQ+-themed books were listed, including Gender Queer, by Maia Kobabe; Flamer, by Mike Curato; The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky; and This Book Is Gay, by Juno Dawson, among others.