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Education About Fighting Anti-LGBTQ+ Censorship

Every person, Black, white or brown, Native or newcomer, transgender or not, deserves the freedom to learn and to thrive.

You can help make your community and schools strong, inclusive and welcoming for all students and families. This can happen at any time, even if your community is not currently facing attacks on inclusive education.

  • Read up. Check out your library and school district handbooks and policies. Take note of whether they explicitly mention protections for LGBTQ+ people. There is room for improvement if they do not.

  • Survey the landscape. Take the temperature of your school and library boards to learn about the issues members care about. Also note how the board makes agendas and decides issues.
  • Organize to Read With Love. Connect with like-minded people and organizations to emphasize that learning and inclusion are shared values in your community.

  • Get involved. Go to a school board meeting, write letters to elected officials, talk to your friends and family about why this is important, and consider a run for local office.

  • What is happening?

    There is an organized and funded effort to weaken public education and eliminate access to inclusive community resources. The groups behind it, such as Moms for Liberty, pull levers of fear and bias rooted in racism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, Anti-Semitism, and xenophobia to divide our communities, weaken our schools, and ultimately harm our students.

    Their favorite tools are bans, and they organize to:

    • Ban inclusive books from schools and public libraries.
      • This happens either through official channels or through “shadow bans” (outside public knowledge) that remove inclusive books from the shelves or to an area that requires permission to access.
    • Ban school curricula.
      • Educational gag orders, such as “Don’t Say Gay,” prevent teaching accurate history and science that is inclusive of hard truths. These efforts often include provisions to remove signals of inclusion, like Pride and Black Lives Matter flags, classroom safe space agreements, or even contact information for inclusive resources for support.
    • Ban student protections.
      • So-called “Parent Bill of Rights” policies require teachers to report to parents if a child chooses to use a name or gender that is different from their birth certificate. They often also require schools to disclose to parents if a child seeks counseling.
    • Ban school bathrooms and school sports.
      • School bathroom and locker room bans, as well as sports bans that target students who are transgender are rooted in arguments made during the Jim Crow era. They only changed the type of people to fear, as if this is a game of “discrimination Mad-Libs.”
    • Ban teachers, librarians, counselors and administrators who value diversity and inclusion.
      • “Don’t Say Gay” and so-called “Parent Bill of Rights” policies sometimes include penalties for school faculty, staff and administrators that put their jobs and livelihoods in jeopardy.
      • Protests at school board, library board, and other meetings are often laden with vitriol for affirming school policies, board members, administrators, teachers, librarians, and staff.
      • In some cases, affirming librarians, teachers, staff, administrators and board members’ lives, families and homes have been threatened with violence, often organized online other far-right media channels.
  • Why is it happening?

    Partisan political actors have worked to limit access to education, especially access for Black people, Indigenous people, and immigrants, (this list isn’t exhaustive), since before the Civil War. Recently, they have found success by targeting LGBTQ+ people, especially transgender people, and by falsely claiming public education infringes on “parents’ rights.”

    Public education is vulnerable because it isn’t written into the Constitution. Access to education stems from Supreme Court rulings, like Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kan. that eliminated school segregation, and laws like the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the IDEA Act, and others that strive to prevent discrimination and establish safety nets for vulnerable students. These rulings and laws are rooted in interpretation of the 14th Amendment.

    Parents already have rights. Federal and state laws and school policies encourage parent participation in public school, including accessing curricula, grades, class materials, school board participation, volunteering in school, etc. Parents also have the right to vote and the right (if not the means) to choose other schooling options. Parents do not require a law to build bonds of trust with their kids, so a child feels safe to be themselves both at home and at school.

    Youth, especially minors, are vulnerable to harm (including from their families). While they are in school, youth are protected by federal and state laws that mandate that public schools provide a safety net of support for students so they can be their best and thrive.

  • More Resources!