Penguin Random House book ban lawsuit is a step in the right direction

Book bans are still an ongoing discussion in the U.S. It seems that no real actions have been taken against those advocating for censorship and no substantial changes have been made to protect Americans’ right to the freedom of information.

That might have just changed, though, with a recent federal lawsuit filed by Penguin Random House. The publisher is challenging the state of Iowa for banning books and limiting the school curriculum on sexual orientation and gender identity, according to CNN

I am not trying to downplay past legal efforts regarding book bans. I just mean to say that the involvement of Penguin Random House, one of America’s largest publishing companies, will definitely propel the fight for academic and literate freedom forward.

One example of legal action taken against book bans comes within the same week that Penguin Random House filed their lawsuit where Lambda Legal, the ACLU of Iowa, and the law firm Jenner & Block LLP, also filed a lawsuit against Iowa. They argued that the law aimed to silence LGBTQ+ students and erase LGBTQ+ people from Iowa’s public schools. 

The policy these lawsuits are opposing is also one example of legal action trying to implement book bans. 

This legal effort that has pushed Penguin Random House and others to pursue a lawsuit is SF 496 and it was signed in by Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds. SF 496 restricts literature that “portrays and describes critical aspects of the human experience” and “discriminates against LGBTQ+ viewpoints and authors.”

Joining Penguin Random House’s lawsuit are best-selling authors John Green, Jodi Picoult, Laurie Halse Anderson and Malinda Ho. These four authors have all had their books challenged and reviewed as a part of the effort to ban books, or have had their books completely banned from classrooms in Iowa. The plaintiffs also include Iowa teachers, a student and the Iowa State Education Association. 

Specifically, Penguin Random House is targeting the portions of the bill that aim to have books removed from school libraries and classrooms in their lawsuit. They are arguing that the law violates the First and 14th amendment. Being that the bill violates Iowa’s rights to freedom of speech and an attempt to take them away entirely. 

In a previous Ramapo News article titled “Banned Books week spotlights conversations about censorship” I discussed book bans in New Jersey in an attempt to remind us that parents and other community members are driving to take books off the shelves across the U.S. and beyond. 

It’s obvious that censorship and book bans are going to be a prolonged issue and political discussion in America that affects everyone, including those of us in New Jersey. Despite this I think that Penguin Random House getting involved in fighting for our freedom of speech is a huge stride forward in the fight for inclusivity. Hopefully it will get more people involved and make major changes in Iowa that could be applied across the States.


Featured photo courtesy of Dom J, Pexels