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State Sens. Zwicker, Ruiz propose bill to stop banning of books

The state senators are striking back against what they call a “vocal minority” of parents who are trying to get certain books taken off the shelves.

Matt Trapani

Jun 1, 2023, 9:05 PM

Updated 387 days ago

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Two Democratic state lawmakers have introduced a bill that would outlaw efforts to ban books.
State Sen. Andrew Zwicker and state Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz are striking back against what they call a “vocal minority” of parents who are trying to get certain books taken off the shelves of school and public libraries.
Conservative parent groups across the country have been targeting books that grapple with topics such as sexual identity, LGBTQ+ themes and racism.
Zwicker says that the Democrats behind the bill are championing free speech.
“This is about, truly, parental freedom, right? And fighting for that parental freedom. And saying that you get a decision for your family, I get a decision for my family - I'm the parent of three - and other people do not tell us what we can and cannot do,” Zwicker says.
The ban on book banning would apply to both school and public libraries – any library that receives state funding. The bill would mean that any library that bans or restricts access to a book or other resource could get its state funding pulled.
Zwicker says pulling funding would not be the first option lawmakers would go with and that it probably would not mean all funding would be pulled.
Parents in Hamilton, Roxbury and Hunterdon County have flooded school board meetings objecting to books such as “Gender Queer,” “Beloved” and “The Bluest Eye.”
Republican state Sen. Holly Schepisi says that if one could get in trouble with human resources at work for showing around a copy of a book or graphic novel, then it shouldn’t be on the shelves of a middle school library.
“I think where the greatest controversy comes into play is just the really significant adult sexual themes in some of these books,” Schepisi says. “They would make you blush, and you’re an adult.”
Zwicker says that Gov. Phil Murphy’s office is open to the idea of the bill but wants to see more specifics before signing on.
Zwicker hopes to make the bill a law by the end of 2023.


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