Rabb announces legislation to rein in book bans in Pa.

HARRISBURG, Oct. 10 – State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., announced today that he has authored legislation that would establish uniform procedures for school boards to follow before being able to restrict students’ access to books.

“Book bans are an attempt to censor educators and restrict the information and educational materials that students can have access to in school,” Rabb said. “In addition, these effectively unilateral decisions made by school boards are extremely harmful to LGBTQ+ youth and students of color given that the subjects discussed in these so-called ‘inappropriate’ and ‘explicit’ books often discuss many serious and real issues impacting these communities.”

Efforts taken to ban books are often unpopular among both teachers and students, Rabb said. However, elected school boards continue to run roughshod despite protests by education professionals and students themselves.

His legislation would require the Pennsylvania Department of Education and school boards to participate in, at minimum, two public hearings moderated by professionals with ample knowledge of the books in question prior to any vote to ban them.

Pennsylvania has the unfortunate designation of being the state with the second-largest number of books that are currently banned from its school libraries and curriculum.

Rabb participated in a Freedom to Read news conference at the state Capitol during Banned Books Week last year. Video from the event is available here, and Rabb’s comments from the news conference are available here.