Coalition Urges Huntington Beach City Council to Reject Proposed Book Ban 

October 17, 2023


SAN RAFAEL – The First Amendment Coalition, ACLU Foundation of Southern California, and the Freedom to Read Foundation today sent a letter to the Huntington Beach City Council urging it to reject Resolution No. 2023-41, which would prohibit any city library from allowing access to “any content of a sexual nature” for anyone under 18 years of age without consent of a parent or guardian, regardless of “whether the books or materials are intended for children or adults.”

As the groups write, this proposal would impose an “unconstitutional censorship regime on the people’s right to access library books and materials protected by the First Amendment,” noting that everything from seminal works of literature such as “Romeo and Juliet,” “The Great Gatsby,” “1984,” and “Beloved,” to textbooks such as “Introduction to Plant Reproduction,” to the Bible, would be covered by the resolution’s overbroad definition of “content of a sexual nature.”

The resolution would also establish a “community parent/guardian review board” that would have veto power over the city library’s acquisition of new children’s books “containing any sexual writing, sexual references, sexual images and/or other sexual content.” Such a ban on the acquisition of new material would be based solely on undefined “community standards.”   

“Parents and children have the right to decide for themselves what library books to read,” said David Loy, Legal Director for the First Amendment Coalition. “The government does not belong in the censorship business.” 

“Since the founding of this nation, public libraries have been havens for free inquiry and expression,” said Jonathan Markovitz, Free Expression and Access to Government staff attorney at the ACLU of Southern California. “No one has the right to subject, through force of government, the entire community to their narrow and arbitrary view of what books are acceptable for minors of any age to read.”

The letter concludes: “The City Council would far better serve the people of Huntington Beach by respecting their fundamental right to freedom of expression and turning its attention to public services, instead of stoking division by adopting an arbitrary and unconstitutional censorship regime.”

One Comment

  • I would’ve liked you ALL to have come out against censorship by California regarding Covid-19 draconian policies regarding vaccines and masks. I would’ve like you to have come out against political censorship by our own government, including former SOS Padilla’s division of misinformation.

    It’s sad to see political biases in First Amendment organizations

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