California to Fine School Boards for Rejecting CRT, Explicit LGBT Materials
The Golden State is putting new legislation in place to penalize school boards and teachers that reject critical race theory (CRT) and LGBT materials in classrooms and school libraries. On Monday, California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) signed into law a bill that bans school boards from removing or censoring books or instructional materials flagged as “diverse,” particularly “topics related to race, ethnicity, gender, [and] sexual orientation.”
The legislation has been touted by Democrats as a “ban on book bans,” and the text of Assembly Bill 1078 itself claims to “safeguard the right to an accurate and inclusive curriculum.” This comes as school boards across California have partnered with parents to protect children and reject state-mandated materials that promote transgenderism, and parents themselves have been openly protesting the state’s overreach.
Meg Kilgannon, senior fellow for Education Studies at Family Research Council, told The Washington Stand, “The fact that the California legislature is running bills like this proves that the educational establishment is concerned enough about parental activism to try to eliminate any possible actions on the part of the elected school boards in California in favor of parental rights. They do not want resolutions to involve parents in their own children’s education to be passed at the school board level. They are essentially trying to make the address of parents’ concerns illegal.”
AB 1078 was passed by the state legislature earlier this month by a more-than-two-thirds majority. The new law effectively allows the state to fine school districts for rejecting materials that promote CRT and contain sexually explicit LGBT themes through a complicated process of allowing county superintendents to police school boards and the state superintendent to decrease state funding based on violations of the new law. Newsom himself helped to craft the legislation, reportedly inspired to after a California school board rejected course materials praising San Francisco politician and LGBT icon Harvey Milk, who Temecula Valley school board president Dr. Joseph Komrosky called a “pedophile.” The board eventually restored the debated content after Newsom threatened a $1.5 million fine.
Arielle Del Turco, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at Family Research Council, commented to TWS, “This is an authoritarian measure by the California legislature and Governor Newsom to silence and invalidate the concerns that parents have been raising regarding sexually explicit books and ideological activism in public schools. Across the country, concerned parents have become motivated and engaged in school boards, and that has clearly had an impact.”
In a press release, Newsom stated, “With this new law, we’re cementing California’s role as the true freedom state: a place where families — not political fanatics — have the freedom to decide what’s right for them.” However, the governor’s administration and his progressive allies in the state legislature have been waging a legislative war against California parents. A spate of bills working their way through the state legislature — and eventually landing on Newsom’s desk — would criminalize parents who protest at school board meetings, train teachers to identify whether LGBT-identifying children are receiving the proper “affirmation” from their parents, and permit children as young as 12 years old to check themselves into gender transition facilities without parental approval. A coalition of parents and parental rights organizations has introduced a series of ballot initiatives to combat Newsom’s agenda.
Religious liberty advocates have also expressed concern over the new legislation and its capacity to strip parents of the right to raise their children according to their own value systems, instead of the state’s. Del Turco noted, “This new legislation is a desperate attempt to stifle the voices and influence of parents who don’t want their impressionable children to be inundated with the promotion of gender ideology at school. This will adversely affect religious parents who want to shape the values that their children are learning.”
She pointed to the example of Julie Hupp, the president of Rocklin Unified School District's school board in California, who was berated earlier this year for calling on “Christ centered, family focused parents” to join school advisory committees. Del Turco observed, “In California, it increasingly seems like all viewpoints are acceptable to shape public institutions except for those informed by a Christian worldview. This is extremely dangerous, and Christians and conservatives in California cannot be passive about this.”
Kilgannon concurred, noting that parents across the country should see California as a testing ground. “We all need to remember that what happens in California today will be introduced in your statehouse in the next few months or years. California schools are failing to teach children the basics. How they can justify this type of overreach is beyond me.” The new law went into effect immediately upon receiving Newsom’s signature.
S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.