By Ileana Najarro — September 01, 2022
Book challenges, restrictions, and outright bans on materials in K-12 classrooms and school libraries are popping up more and more across the country these days.
Though such challenges are a perennial problem, school districts have seen an uptick in requests to ban books about LGBTQ characters, race, and racism. A PEN America report found that 2 million students in 86 school districts across the country have had their access to books restricted this past school year. And the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom is now getting reports of at least two—and sometimes three or four—book challenges a day, when in the past they would get that many cases per week, said the office’s director, Deborah Caldwell-Stone.
Some educators have been successful in overturning such efforts by supporting students eager to push back, a balancing act requiring them to observe constitutional boundaries about student protests and First Amendment rights. Yet many now teach in states where pushback to book challenges can be even trickier, thanks to new laws that more broadly restrict how topics such as race and gender are discussed in school.