A pair of resolutions in Congress — one in each chamber of the legislature — seeks to condemn efforts across the country to ban children from accessing books that right-wing parents or community members have improperly deemed to contain objectionable material.
The vast majority of books banned Features that appeal to LGBTQ, Black, and Brown readers and/or feminist readers may feature characters or themes..
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D.Maryland) will present a House version, while Senator Brian Schatz (D.Hawaii), will submit the Senate version. The resolutions will highlight the problem of book bannings in a democratic society, but won’t bind state or local governments to take action.
According to Politico, the House resolution will express “concern about the spreading problem of book banning and proliferating threats to freedom of expression in the United States.” It also “reaffirms the United States’ commitment to supporting writers’ freedom of expression, and the freedom of all Americans to read books without government censorship.”
The measure cites a 1982 Supreme Court ruling. Board of Education v. Pico, which stated that school districts are limited in how they can block books from middle and high school libraries, due to students’ First Amendment freedoms.
“The wave of book bans that has swept across our country in recent years is a direct attack on First Amendment rights and should alarm every American who believes that freedom of expression is a fundamental pillar of our democracy,” Raskin said in a statement, adding:
The removal of books from schools and public libraries for the simple reason that they challenge students to think beyond their own experience or introduce ideas about diversity is not only anti-democratic, but also a sign of authoritarian regimes.
It’s unclear whether these resolutions will be passed in one or both houses of Congress. The measure has been supported by progressive organizations like labor unions such as the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA).
In the past year, there have been 2,500 instances of policy directives to ban booksAccording to an analysis of PEN America, an organization that promotes freedom of expression and artistic rights. These are just a few examples of the many efforts. From July 2021 to Juni 2022, at least 1,648 titles were affected.
“This rapidly accelerating movement has resulted in more and more students losing access to literature that equips them to meet the challenges and complexities of democratic citizenship,” Jonathan Friedman, the director of PEN America’s free expression and education programs.
According to A report by the American Library Association was published this month, another 681 demands for book bans across the country have affected 1,651 titles since 2022 — an increase from 1,597 titles the year prior.