The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) and over 40 organizations have issued a statement condemning nationwide attempts to block young people from accessing LGBTQ stories in schools and libraries. Through a combination of school book challenges, state legislative proposals, the use of “parental rights” arguments to attempt to allow viewpoint discrimination, and event protests and cancellations, we have seen a disturbing increase in attempts to violate young people’s right to access information and the principles of free speech.
Yesterday, the American Library Association issued its annual Top Ten Most Challenged Books list. Eighty percent of the titles tell LGBTQ stories. In the five years prior to 2015, the year that Obergefell v. Hodges affirmed the rights of same sex couples to marry in the United States, LGBTQ books never made up more than 20% of ALA’s list. Since 2015, at least 40% of the titles each year have told LGBTQ stories.
NCAC is a non-partisan organization and this is a non-partisan issue, as evidenced by the broad range of signatories on this statement. NCAC advocates for the rights of students, teachers and librarians to read freely, to access information and to explore new ideas. A strong education demands exposure to diverse viewpoints, ideas and experiences. Parents who object to specific books in schools may ask for alternate assignments for their own children. What they cannot be permitted to do is determine what books, art or ideas are available to other young people.
Allowing the personal beliefs and viewpoints of some to determine what all students can read and teachers can teach not only violates the rights to freedom of expression and information of all community members, it endangers the well-being of the country’s most precious resource: its youth.
Read the full statement below. Click here for a full screen view: