In communities across the country, an organized political attack on books in schools threatens the education of America’s children. These ongoing attempts to purge schools of books represent a partisan political battle fought in school board meetings and state legislatures.
Libraries offer students the opportunity to encounter books and other material that they might otherwise never see and the freedom to make their own choices about what to read. Denying young people this freedom to explore–often on the basis of a single controversial passage cited out of context–will limit not only what they can learn but who they can become.
Books help students connect with characters whose stories reflect their own lives. They also widen their view of a changing world that embraces diversity and multiculturalism. But there is always resistance to change. So it is not surprising that most of the books that are being attacked address concerns of groups previously underrepresented in libraries and school curriculums: books about lived experiences of racism or of growing up LGBTQIA and experiencing bias, discrimination, hate and even violence.
The First Amendment guarantees that no individual, group of individuals, legislator, community member, or even school board member can dictate what public school students are allowed to read based on their own personal beliefs or political viewpoint.
It is freedom of expression that ensures that we can meet the challenges of a changing world. That freedom is critical for the students who will lead America in the years ahead. We must fight to defend it.