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Democratic lawmakers introduce bill aiming to push back on book bans

Democratic lawmakers introduced a bill Tuesday aimed at pushing back against nationwide efforts to ban books in schools.

The Fight Book Bans Act, formally known as H.R. 6592, would allow the Department of Education to provide school districts with grants to cover the costs of fighting book challenges, “including costs such as attorney fees and court fees,” according to the text of the bill.

If enacted, school districts would be able to receive a maximum grant amount of $100,000, according to a news release from Florida Democratic Rep. Maxwell Alejandro Frost.

Frost introduced the bill, along with fellow Florida Democrat Rep. Frederica Wilson and Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin.

In a statement shared with CNN, Frost said “book bans in Florida and in states across the nation are a direct attack on our freedoms and liberties everywhere.”

“The Fight Book Bans Act takes a stand against censorship to firmly stand on the side of history, education, our students, teachers, and schools who don’t deserve to suffer the consequences of radical politics in the classroom,” Frost said.

The proposed measure comes as many states attempt to pass or have passed legislation to ban books from schools and libraries, and amid continued debates over how race and sexuality should be taught in classrooms.

The bill is not likely to pass the House, as Republican lawmakers hold an extremely narrow majority in the chamber.

According to a recent report by PEN America, a literary and free expression advocacy organization, book bans in public schools rose by 33% in the last academic school year.

Florida had the highest number of book bans – more than 1,400 – compared with any other state, according to the report. Texas, which had the most bans last year, had the second-highest number of book bans during the 2022-2023 school year, with 625 instances, CNN previously reported.

Laura Schroeder, congressional affairs lead for PEN America, said in a statement Tuesday that the organization backs the proposed bill, alongside other literacy and civil rights groups, including the American Library Association and National Urban League.

“Banning books in schools is not only unpopular; it’s expensive,” Schroeder said in the statement. “As school districts around the country divert resources to address widespread efforts to curtail students’ freedom to read, it is once again students who suffer the most.”

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