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A bill banning the ability of school boards to ban books has cleared the state Senate

Books sit on shelves in an elementary school library in suburban Atlanta on Aug. 18.
Harkim Wright Sr.
Books sit on shelves in an elementary school library.

Lawmakers in Richmond are considering legislation that would prohibit school boards from banning books.

School boards across Virginia may soon be out of luck if they want to pull books from authors like Kurt Vonnegut, for example. That’s because Democratic Senator Ghazala Hashmi of Chesterfield has a bill that would ban school boards from banning books.

Senator Chris Head is a Republican from Botetourt County who voted against the bill.

"This now does prohibit a school board from taking action that would remove something that is just totally egregious," said Head. "And you may call that censorship. That's good parenting in my mind."

Senator Schuyler VanValkenburg is a Democrat from Henrico who disagrees. He says the General Assembly should take action to prevent future school boards from taking action similar to the one recently taken by Hanover School Board.

"This makes sure that localities, in the dead of the night, which is what happened on a Friday night in a county around here where they took 75 books off the shelf with no process at all, which takes away my kids' right to read a book that they want to read," VanValkenburg said. "We're talking about Kurt Vonnegut was taken off the shelves, right? This prevents a school board from doing that."

Hashmi’s bill passed the Senate with the support from all Democrats in the chamber and one Republican, Senator David Suetterlein of Roanoke County.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.