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A new PEN America report released today highlights how pervasive the challenges of school books are in today’s censorship-friendly climate. Between July and March, more than 1,145 unique books were noticed, affecting 874 different authors, 198 illustrators and 9 translators. The 8-month window lists 1,586 books in 86 school districts in 26 states on the Book Challenges Index. These districts represent 2,899 schools with a combined enrollment of over 2 million students.
Texas leads the country with the most sanctions in 713, followed by Pennsylvania (456), Florida (204), Oklahoma (43), Kansas (30) and Tennessee (16). The report emphasizes the disregard for the First Amendment rights of students in schools, as 98% of the challenges did not follow the best practice for the book challenge and most occurred without following the correct channels (e.g., formal complaints or review committee).
Report results include:
- 467 headlines (41%) included protagonists or prominent minor characters who were people of color
- 247 headings (22%) directly address issues of race and racism
- 379 headings (33%) explicitly address LGBTQ + themes, or LGBTQ + has a protagonist or prominent minor character
- 184 titles (16%) are history books or biographies. 107 Contains explicit or explicit themes related to rights and activism (9%)
- Most of the books targeted are fiction works, but 28% are non-fiction and include history books, analytical and / or personal essays, and children’s reference and informative works.
The three most challenging books were Maya Kobab’s Gender Queer, banned in 30 districts; Not all boys are blue By George M. Johnson, banned in 21 districts; And Lawn boy By Jonathan Evison, banned in 16 districts. The three centers are variegated characters.
PEN America defines a school book ban based on the content of a book and completely removes previously accessible books from access to students as a response to a parent or community challenge, administrative decision, or response to direct or threatening action by lawmakers or other government officials. , Or where access to a book has been restricted or reduced.
“The challenge of books in American schools is nothing new, but this kind of data has never been calculated, and the results are clearly staggering. Director of the Education Program. “What is happening in this country is unique in terms of frequency, intensity and success in banning school books. Due to censorship tactics and politicization of books, we are seeing the same books being moved across state lines: race, gender, LGBTQ + identity and sexuality.” Books are often a systematic attack on books whose subjects have recently found a place in school library shelves and classrooms ৷ we are witnessing the removal of subjects that have recently represented progress towards inclusion. “
You can read the full 25-page report here.