A book ban is fueling a battle between the Temecula School Board President and Governor Gavin Newsom. The board recently blocked a history book because it mentions slain gay rights advocate Harvey Milk, who the board’s president called a pedophile. 

In a Tweet, the governor responded to Dr. Joseph Komrosky’s comment, calling the statement “offensive” and that it comes “from an ignorant person.”  

“Governor Newsom, I’m glad that I have your attention,” Komrosky said in response to Newsom’s online remarks. “Now you have mine, as I received my first death threat after your tweet.”

The Temecula School Board President says he’s ready for the challenge after Newsom said he will fight any school district in the state that tries to ban books teaching about race and sexual orientation. 

Komrosky’s comments about Milk, one of the first openly gay officials elected in the U.S., came during a school board meeting.  

“It clarifies what his lifestyle was and it clarifies that he was responsible for some of the movement in California with gay rights,” a woman at the school board meeting said about the book’s take on Milk.  

“My question is why even mention a pedophile?” Komrosky responded.  

“He’s not a pedophile,” the woman said.  

“I beg to differ,” Komrosky said.  

On May 16, the school board rejected curriculum that included a biography of Harvey Milk. It was supplemental material for fourth graders that was optional for teachers to use. More than 45 teachers had already piloted the program.  

“It is California-adopted, which means it meets all the requirements of the frameworks and standards,” Edgar Diaz, the Temecula Valley Educators Association President, told KTLA.  

“During the pilot, teachers send out weekly emails, they send out monthly newsletters that tell parents what is happening in the classroom with the curriculum,” Donna Kronenfeld, a fifth-grade teacher at Tobin Elementary School, said.  

Kronenfeld was one of the teachers involved in the pilot program and says it covered roughly 1,300 students. She added that blocking the book leaves teachers scrambling for next year.  

“This leaves us in a very difficult position because we are left without textbooks for next year,” she said. 

Getting rid of the biography, Kronenfeld believes, could have bigger implications for students.  

“I think it is so important that we represent all viewpoints,” she explained. “Without those viewpoints, history is going to be repeated and then where does that get us? It gets us back to square one again.” 

The governor and Attorney General Rob Bonta released a statement Wednesday urging the board to provide information on its decision-making process. In the statement, Newsom also said: 

“In the Golden State, our kids have the freedom to learn – and there are consequences for denying that freedom. California is closely watching the actions of malicious actors seeking to ban books, whitewash history, and demonize the LGBTQ+ community in Temecula and across the state. If the law is violated, there will be repercussions.”