(The Center Square) – Libraries in Illinois, including at K-12 schools, could see their funding cut if there are efforts to restrict books under a bill that passed the House Wednesday.
House Bill 2789 would limit federal pass-through tax dollars through the Illinois Secretary of State’s office for libraries that remove or restrict certain books.
State Rep. Anne Stava-Murray, D-Downers Grove, used a recent controversy in her district around a book titled “Gender Queer” that she said “the Proud Boys hate group” and “radical fringe” parents protested. The book has sexually explicit themes some parents found objectionable.
“All too often, we see the books targeted by these hate groups and radical fringe parents are books having to deal with LGBTQ+ identities or Black and brown authors,” Stava-Murray said.
State Rep. Martin McLaughlin, R-Barrington Hills, said the measure “strong arms” local communities and is “a complete assault” on local control.
“And for the state to tell a local library board ‘listen to the professionals, follow the professionals,’ I don’t understand why we have local elections anymore if a bill like this passes,” McLaughlin said.
Local school board and library board elections across the state are set for April 4.
During debate between state Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer, R-Jacksonville, and Stava-Murray, the question of parental rights was raised.
“Could you ask if that they not be taken to the library,” Stava-Murray said.
“I don’t think they should be completely kept from the library because there may be one or two books, I think they should be able to go to the library like every other kid,” Davidsmeyer said.
“And you’re not confident that your parenting has instilled in your children their own ability to choose their own books?” Stava-Murray said as Republicans booed.
“I know for a fact that my parenting will allow my children to pick the right book,” Davidsmeyer said.
Stava-Murray closed the debate by disparaging opponents.
“Local control has long been a dog whistle for allowing statewide or nationwide racist or bigoted policies to persist, and by saying local control, you’re booing, and only one side is booing and I wonder why because maybe there is some truth to it,” she said.
The measure passed the House 69-39 and can now be sent to the Illinois Senate.