A California lawmaker on Wednesday refused to say whether a book that instructs minors how to meet strangers on gay hookup apps was suitable for young readers.
During the public comment portion of a legislative hearing, California parent Allie Snyder read aloud portions from This Book Is Gay, the only book officially restricted by a California school last year. The book, which is available in Snyder’s son’s middle school, includes explicit descriptions of sexual acts and step-by-step instructions to use dating apps to find where "the nearest homosexuals are."
When Snyder read from the book, Assemblyman Corey Jackson (D.) demurred on whether it was appropriate for children.
"I can’t comment on something I haven’t read myself," Jackson told Republican Sen. Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh, who asked him if he considered the book appropriate for junior high schoolers. Jackson instead cited his experience as a social worker to underscore the importance of determining whether "books are appropriate depending on the development of the child." A spokesperson for Jackson told the Washington Free Beacon that Jackson stands by his answers.
The exchange came during a hearing on Jackson’s proposal to pull funding from schools that provide an insufficient number of books on LGBT issues. The assemblyman says his proposal is necessary to counter what he described as "some sinister movements sweeping this nation," which harness "the legitimate concerns of parents" for a political agenda. The bill cleared the committee on a party line vote and with the support of California Superintendent of Schools Tony Thurmond.
"The anus does not have the capacity to stretch in the same way a vagina does," the book reads. "This means it’s a tight hole."
This Book Is Gay is tied for ninth place on PEN America’s list of the "most banned books" over the 2022-23 school year. Even in California’s deeply progressive legislature, excerpts from This Book Is Gay appeared to shock some Democrats—including the chair of the Senate education committee.
"Per her description, if it’s even remotely accurate, [the book] is probably offensive to many of us," committee chair Josh Newman said, before voting in favor of Jackson’s bill.
Thurmond, who as the primary backer of Jackson's bill testified in its favor, said it would bring "consequences" to districts that act in a "discriminatory" way. Throughout the hearing, Thurmond, who did not respond to a request for comment, avoided any discussion about the content of controversial books and framed the bill as a measure to stop "threats" to LGBT and minority students.
"There has been violence at school board meetings, simply over a discussion over whether or not to hang a Pride flag," Thurmond told the Senate panel, ostensibly referring to last month’s protest in the Glendale school district where Armenian parents squared off with Antifa protesters. "People were arrested, people were injured, and there were threats being made."
Thurmond also criticized a Southern California school board, which last month rejected an elementary school curriculum that celebrates Harvey Milk, the gay activist who had a relationship with a minor.
As the California legislature debates books, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D.) has made "book bans" central to his national fundraising campaign. Over the weekend, Newsom posted a video of himself in an Idaho bookstore that opposes "book bans."
"Couldn’t leave Boise without dropping by this incredible bookstore," Newsom tweeted on Sunday. "The owners of Rediscovered Books are doing everything they can to push back against these insane bans happening across the country."