What We Believe
We believe that welcoming and inclusive schools provide books and materials that allow students to see themselves and enable students to learn and explore the world and experiences of others. Schools already have rigorous processes to identify books with learning value that are age appropriate for students. Under Federal law, parents have the right to review their children’s circulation records.
Small groups of parents have made it their business to scare and inflame parents in order to impose their views on the school community. Students and their parents should be able to make their own choices, not be dictated to by others.
Attempts to ban books are on the rise around the nation; Pennsylvania is no exception. Since 2021, there have been more than 1,500 decisions to ban books in public schools nationally and 456 book bans in Pennsylvania. According to PEN America, Pennsylvania ranks third among states with the most banned books. This worrisome trend is already negatively impacting Pennsylvania students, who will have less access to the diverse viewpoints and ideas expressed if book banning continues.
What We’re Fighting: Library Censorship and Book Bans
In late 2020, the Central York School District removed dozens of books from its curriculum and school libraries, children’s books written by Black and Indigenous authors, and books about race and racism. While Central York reversed its book ban, nine additional school districts in Pennsylvania have proposed or passed book bans, including additional books that reflect the experiences of LGBTQ youth.
- Read ELC’s advocacy letters opposing the book ban policies proposed at Central Bucks and Pennridge school districts.
- Listen to WHYY’s SCHOOLED podcasts about book bans and community advocacy in Central York and Central Bucks school districts.
State legislation proposed as SB 1277 is based on the false premise that school libraries are filled with sexually explicit materials and that parents have no rights regarding children’s access to library books. It would require school boards to identify and prohibit books and materials that meet a vague standard of “sexually explicit content,” regardless of the educational and literary value, which could include works like Romeo and Juliet. In practice books that include LGBTQ characters and themes would be most likely to be removed.
More than 300 organizations and individuals signed a letter opposing this bill. The legislation was referred to the education committee in June 2022 and is expected to move again in the Fall 2022 session. Contact your Pennsylvania legislator to oppose SB 1277.