Does Arizona’s Sexual Content Bill Ban ‘Atlas Shrugged’ and ‘The Color Purple’?

Analyzing Arizona's HB 2495.
Photo: Polk County Public Schools’ Library
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The Arizona Mirror made a claim on March 16, 2022 that Arizona HB 2495 would ban The Color Purple, The Canterbury Tales, and Atlas Shrugged from Arizona public schools. State Senator Christine Marsh [D] suggested To Kill a Mockingbird and The Kite Runner would also be banned.

Geoff Esposito of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona claimed that if the bill passed, it would be unconstitutional as the legislature would be acting as a censor of consumable media. 

The Chalkboard Review staff have looked through HB 2495 and the claims surrounding them, and have determined these accusations to be:

HB2495 bill bans any assigned material’s reference to sexual conduct, sexual excitement, and “ultimate sexual acts”. There are no exemptions for circumstantial situations other than three amended qualifiers.

While HB 2495 does not ban any of the above books with references to sex, it requires Arizona schools to obtain parental approval before teaching some of them in class. Specific text in the bill exempts “classical literature”, “early American literature”, and books required for college credits:

Geoff Esposito’s claim concerning HB 2495’s unconstitutionality is unfounded, and the bill does not violate the Arizona or Federal constitution as it doesn’t ban students from reading them, only the materials’ provision and assignment by state-sponsored schools.  

The legislation does not provide a definition of “classical literature”, “early American literature”, or whether a student must be enrolled in a college course that requires any certain book. 

Under this legislation, The Color Purple and Atlas Shrugged could be viewed as “banned sexual content”, unless schools changed the definition of what constituted classical literature and college-credit literature requirements.

Chalkboard Review Staff
The Chalkboard Review Staff often collaborate on Read the Bill and report articles to ensure multiple perspectives and founded data points are presented.