Fighting Classroom Censorship and Defending Inclusive Curriculum

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What We Believe

We believe that parents and schools must work together to ensure that every child gets a quality education — one that recognizes their unique needs and provides them with the resources they need to reach their full potential. 

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder in 2020, people came together to oppose long-entrenched issues like police brutality, institutionalized racism, and other oppressive systems. In response, there have been growing efforts to prevent students from learning to think critically about the world, eliminate school district diversity, equity, and inclusion committees, and restrict teachers’ speech with the threat of lawsuits.  

Critical race theory (CRT), a well-established [high-level/collegiate/graduate-level] academic and legal framework addressing how racism is embedded in U.S. laws and institutions, has been catapulted into the public dialogue. This set of concepts has become the catch-all phrase of those who seek to censor any educational discussions dealing with race or racial justice in American schools, no matter the grade level or content. “Banning CRT” means denying students truthful conversations about systemic racial discrimination and reinforces white supremacy. 

Parents across Pennsylvania want truthful education, classrooms where students are valued and accepted, and curriculum that teaches students the true history of our nation –– the good and the bad –– so our children can see how far we’ve come while also learning about how to build a better antiracist future for us all. 

Read our fact sheet about promising practices to build affirming and antiracist schools here.

What We’re Fighting: Anti-History and Classroom Censorship Bills

Many schools are actively attempting to censor the discussion of current events. For example, proposed policies at Pennridge School District would stifle normal classroom discussion about political issues that are integral to student learning and would have a chilling effect on issues related to race, gender and sexual orientation. The proposed policies were exceptionally overbroad and violated the First Amendment rights of students and teachers.

We Need Supportive Spaces That Celebrate Us: Black Girls Speak Out About Public Schools is a report that centers students’ experiences with Black girlhood and sets forth their recommendations for creating more just school communities. A key recommendation of the report calls for the implementation of a culturally responsive and affirming curriculum. 

HB 1532 and HB 2521were two bills in the 2022 Pennsylvania legislature that violated our long history of free speech by dictating what teachers can say in the classroom. The bills sought to intimidate teachers and prevent discussions of current events or American history, conversations that students need to be prepared for adulthood, become informed critical thinkers, and participate fully in civic society. 

  • Read ELC’s letter to the General Assembly opposing HB 1532.