To grow into thoughtful, mature and informed adults, young people need the freedom to explore, learn, and question. But this freedom is often undermined by school officials, politicians, community leaders, and even parents who seek to shield young people from controversial, disturbing, or “inappropriate” content in books, art, and entertainment. Putting young people in a protective bubble is not only impossible–it is counterproductive and dangerous. YFEP confronts the kinds of censorship young people encounter on a daily basis and promotes policies that emphasize informing, educating, and guiding young people so that they can safely navigate and participate in contemporary culture.
Key YFEP Issues:
- Books in Schools and Libraries
- Criticizing Your School
- Political Speech in Schools
- Student Artistic Expression
- Student Journalism
- Video Games
- National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance protests
Key Initiatives: NCAC's Kids Right to Read Project (KRRP) confronts challenges to books in school and public libraries, advocates against book rating systems, and opposes censorship in school curricula.
NCAC's annual Youth Film Contest invites teenagers to create a short film on a timely free speech debate of particular relevance to young people, whether it be video games, sex ed, or social media.
NCAC systematically opposes government efforts to restrict minors’ access to video games, and questions the claim that exposure to fantasy violence in video games, media, and books causes violent behavior. NCAC’s work on harassment and bullying emphasizes that speech rights cannot and need not be sacrificed to protect against discrimination. Positive educational and support programs to teach students to deal with sensitive and challenging issues are more likely to be successful than punitive approaches and do not exact the high price of restricting students’ fundamental rights.
The Youth Free Expression Program (YFEP) is supported by a generous grant from the Leon Levy Foundation.