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White House Announces Actions to Address Book Bans

White House Announces Actions to Address Book Bans

The Biden-Harris Administration has announced new actions to protect LGBTQI+ communities from attacks on their rights and safety, including safeguards to protect books by and about marginalized communities that are increasingly being banned and challenged across the U.S.

In a fact sheet released today, the White House announced that the Department of Education will appoint a new coordinator to address the growing threat that book bans pose for the civil rights of students, among other steps to protect the rights of LGBTQIA+ Americans.

The administration said: “Across the country, our nation faces a spike in book bans—efforts that disproportionately strip books about LGBTQI+ communities, communities of color, and other communities off of library and classroom shelves. In fact, 2022 saw the highest number of book bans in 20 years. Book banning erodes our democracy, removes vital resources for student learning, and can contribute to the stigma and isolation that LGBTQI+ people and other communities face. The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is announcing that to support its ongoing work to defend the rights of LGBTQI+ students and other underserved communities, it will appoint a new coordinator to address the growing threat that book bans pose for the civil rights of students. That coordinator will work to provide new trainings for schools nationwide on how book bans that target specific communities and create a hostile school environment may violate federal civil rights laws.”

The American Library Association (ALA) has applauded the move.

“We are heartened by the Biden-Harris Administration’s leadership to address the alarming rise in book bans and other attacks on LGBTQIA+ Americans that aim to stigmatize and erase the voices of the LGBTQIA+ community,” ALA President Lessa Kanani'opua Pelayo-Lozada said in a statement. “Everyone deserves the opportunity to see themselves and their family reflected in the books in their library’s collection. Those books are a safe place, with stories that validate their experience and where they find acceptance, hope, and can see a future."

Pelayo-Lozada continued: “There is no room in libraries for discrimination. ALA supports local libraries in resisting attempts to ban books by and about the experience of LGBTQIA+ persons. We encourage individuals and organizations to join with us in the Unite Against Book Bans campaign to fight local efforts to ban books and undermine Americans’ constitutionally protected freedom to read.”

Take action

Alarmed by the escalating attempts to censor books? Here are five steps you can take now to protect the freedom to read.

1. Follow news and social media in your community and state to keep apprised of organizations working to censor library or school materials.
2. Show up for library workers at school or library board meetings and speak as a library advocate and community stakeholder who supports a parent’s right to restrict reading materials for their own child but not for all
3. Help provide a safety net for library professionals as they defend intellectual freedom in their communities by giving to the LeRoy C. Merritt Humanitarian Fund.
4. Educate friends, neighbors, and family members about censorship and how it harms communities. Share information from Banned Books Week.
5. Join the Unite Against Book Bans movement to learn what you can do to defend the freedom to read in your community.

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