Book Banning Ignites a Series of Breakthrough Inclusivity Mandates

Read on to learn more about the monumental legislation that puts marginalized histories in school curricula that a growing number of states are adopting.

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A school classroom with a transparent pride flag overlaid on top.

In recent years, book banning in schools has skyrocketed across the United States. Often, the books in question are written by LGBTQ+ authors or authors of color, following stories with diverse characters. Singling out these books, combined with cuts to diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, attacks and removes diversity within school curricula, preventing students from accessing their freedom to read and learn about these critical narratives. However, some key states are protecting inclusivity within their schools and passing breakthrough legislation.

Senate Bill 5462

Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill 5462, a law that would require school districts to adopt culturally diverse and inclusive curricula, which would include queer history and the histories of people of color or with disabilities. This law comes after the contemporary debate between Republicans and Democrats on whether these topics are appropriate for children. LGBTQ+ activists in Washington say that this law teaches citizens that exposing students to queer identities is not inappropriate, normalizing diverse perspectives. Governor Inslee’s law will go into effect in the 2025-26 school year.

Two hands hold a paper heart with the pride flag colors drawn on it. The person holding out their hands is in a white cable knit sweater.

Assistant Professor of Political Science and director of the LGBTQ+ Politics Research Initiative at Loyola Marymount University Gabriele Magni says Washington and the six other states that are mandating inclusivity are reacting to the record-breaking amount of anti-LGBTQ+ laws and policies observed in a majority of conservative states. “Don’t Say Gay” laws, pushed by Republican officials, have banned books with LGBTQ+ storylines and characters and DEI programs in public schools and state universities. In some states, discussions related to sexual orientation or gender identity are regulated in some capacity. The sexuality of significant historical figures, such as Walt Whitman or Alan Turing, is considered too controversial to discuss in schools.

The Importance of Inclusivity

Academic studies have shown that inclusive LGBTQ+ curricula create an understanding of marginalized experiences, reduce bullying, and create safer school environments for children. Washington, California, Colorado, Illinois, and Nevada are implementing mandated changes to recreate inclusive curricula. Kristie Bennett, an advisor to the gender and sexuality alliance club at a high school where she teaches who identifies as bisexual, says that an inclusive curriculum provides necessary representation for students.

A diverse group of high school students walk and converse in a brightly lit school hallway. Some are holding books and others have book bags.

Laws such as these are becoming increasingly important in the recent political atmosphere. Through diverse and inclusive books and education, society becomes more understanding of one another and knowledgeable about varied experiences.

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