ACLU UT's Ellie Menlove Testified Against H.B. 29

Read testimony from Ellie Menlove, Legislative and Policy Counsel, opposing H.B. 29 (Sensitive Materials)

Chair Pierucci and members of the Committee,

My name is Ellie Menlove and I’m the Legislative & Policy Counsel for the ACLU of Utah. We are speaking in opposition to HB29. There are several concerning elements of this bill that undermine the First Amendment and pose Constitutional concerns.

By allowing challenges to instructional materials, this bill gives certain individuals the power to suppress and regulate educational content for entire school districts, and potentially the entire state. HB 29 allows others to censor what your children get to read. Individual people should not have that power over your kids’ education.

The provision allowing a statewide ban if a small number of school districts or charter schools deem material as "objectively sensitive” oversteps the authority of local governments.

It undermines the autonomy of elected school boards and strips control from the officials who know their schools and students best. It would impose localized biases across the state and stifle diverse and inclusive perspectives for all students.

We are also concerned that the bill requires materials be made immediately unavailable based on subjective challenges, potentially restricting students' access to essential educational content without due process.

At its core, this bill boils down to an attempt to ban books in our schools, which violates our students’ First Amendment right to receive information or ideas in their schools. This bill would allow the government to suppress students’ right to read free from viewpoint-based censorship.

For these reasons, the ACLU of Utah must oppose this bill. Thank you.