Gov. Gavin Newsom and other top California officials Thursday cautioned school administrators against restricting what students read and learn about marginalized groups — marking their most forceful response to a spate of conservative-led book challenges to date.
Newsom, Attorney General Rob Bonta and state Superintendent Tony Thurmond warned K-12 leaders in a letter that a litany of state laws and constitutional precedent could stand in their way should they shelve books or cut curriculum based on their inclusion of themes related to race and sexual orientation.
“A local educational agency’s removal of materials” in some cases, the three Democrats wrote, “may constitute unlawful discrimination.”
They also told administrators to prepare for a review from the attorney general if they restrict instructional materials.
The admonition builds on recent actions from California Democrats who have recently acted to shield California’s public schools from a slew of restrictions pushed by Republicans like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on what students learn about race and gender.
Newsom’s office earlier this month requested information from DeSantis, the Florida Department of Education and textbook publishers over K-12 social studies books that were revised under pressure from Florida Republicans. Thurmond this week sent a memo to California school leaders warning that content restrictions could run afoul of the First Amendment.
Book bans and restrictions in California have been rare, according to national groups tracking them. One tracker cited in the California leaders’ letter reflects only one book removal in the state — a high school district north of Los Angeles that shelved This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson….