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Nina Perez's picture

I had the benefit of an amazing public education growing up in Florida, but thanks to far right extremists in my state and across the nation, my kid and others’ freedom to learn and read is at risk and something has to be done.

Moms, parents, teachers, and community leaders across the country are defending children’s freedom to learn, to be themselves, and pursue their dreams no matter where they are from or what they look like, but they need more reinforcements from national leaders - STAT!

***Tell the U.S. Department of Education to keep up the good work – and that now’s the time for them to step in to investigate actions to ban books and propagate misinformation in public schools and protect the freedom to learn!

As you may have already heard on the news, last week the Florida State Board of Education just passed standards that will harmfully and ridiculously require middle school students to learn that “Black people benefited from slavery,” despite important opposition from countless families and community leaders in the room and across the state. The new, awful, standard requires a curriculum that includes: “slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.” [1] Let us be clear here: This is ludicrous, hateful, racist, and has no place in our schools.

Sadly, we know the attacks on books, schools, and communities won’t stop here.

Far-right MAGA Republican Governors and state legislatures across the nation have been using political tricks to erode accurate and age-appropriate education, attack LGBTQ+ communities, and ban books. For many of us on-the-ground, this is like the worst, toxic game of whack-a-mole in existence and some reinforcements right about now would be really great.

Add your name to urge the U.S. Department of Education to protect students’ right to read and learn in schools by investigating how these laws and standards may violate students’ civil rights.

Don’t believe this can be happening? Think again. In my own hometown in Jacksonville, a video went viral of empty book shelves in schools (the educator has since been fired for posting the video) and students as young as nine have been speaking out. [2]

What books are being pulled? Plain and simple, books about diverse communities, history, and LGBTQ+ families and communities. Books like Black Boy Joy, When Aiden Became a Brother, and the Diary of Anne Frank. [3,4] Yes. You read those titles right. Earlier this year in Pinellas County, a school age book about the story of the famous civil right activist Ruby Bridges who helped integrate schools in New Orleans when she was 6-years-old was challenged and the iconic Disney film about Ruby Bridges was banned outright due to one single complaint. [5] Just one complaint meant none of the kids could learn about Ruby Bridges until other parents filed formal measures to get it back in. But unfortunately there are so many far-right politically motivated attacks happening that parents and local communities in Florida and in other states need back up:

  • According to PEN America, between July and December 2022, instances of individual book bans occurred in 66 school districts in 21 states with Texas, Florida, Missouri, Utah, and South Carolina experiencing the most bans, [6]
  • Between January and September 2021 alone, 24 legislatures across the United States introduced 54 separate bills intended to restrict teaching and training in K-12 schools, higher education, and state agencies and institutions. The majority of these bills targeted discussions of race, racism, gender, and American history [7], and
  • Right now, the ACLU is tracking over 200 anti-LGBTQ+ school and education proposals across the country. [8]

These coordinated attacks are NOT okay. Well-funded far-right politicians are becoming a censorship machine actively working to ban age-appropriate books, erase honest and accurate American history, and attack students and teachers simply for who they love.

Sign on and urge the U.S. Department of Education to back up families, students, teachers, and communities on the ground and protect the freedom to learn!

After you sign, don’t forget to forward share with friends and family and ask them to sign, too. Together, we can demand every child have access to a high-quality and accurate education.

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