As Massachusetts students and teachers return to school, the ACLU today launched resources for Massachusetts students, parents, and educators to defend all students’ right to learn. The new hub comes as politicians and extremists across the country are trying to censor classrooms and ban books.
“Across the country, we’re seeing an organized attempt to restrict what students can learn, teachers can teach, and libraries can lend,” said Laura Rótolo, field director at the ACLU of Massachusetts. “But every young person has the right to read and learn about diverse topics and viewpoints – including their own identity – inside and outside the classroom. That’s why, this back-to-school season, we want to make sure all Bay Staters know that each one of us has a role to play in ensuring that all students receive a quality education in an inclusive environment.”
From calls for book bans to curriculum censorship, there is a coordinated, nationwide attack on students’ right to learn: Dozens of states have introduced and passed classroom censorship bills that restrict students and teachers from discussing race, gender, and sexual orientation in public schools. At the same time, politicians and school boards are making moves to ban books – predominately those by Black and LGBTQ authors – from public schools and libraries. According to the American Library Association, there were at least 45 attempts to restrict access to books in Massachusetts last year, with 57 titles challenged.
The new ACLU of Massachusetts hub includes information about students’ constitutional rights, a toolkit to help students and families take action against classroom censorship efforts in their own schools, upcoming ACLU events for students, parents, and educators, and more.
The ACLU of Massachusetts has a long history of advocating with and for students. Most recently, the ACLU weighed in against a repressive school library proposal in Ludlow and a dress code proposal with both free speech and discrimination implications in Brockton; both proposals were ultimately rejected. The ACLU – together with GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) – also sent a letter to the Massachusetts Associations of School Superintendents and School Committees, urging public school districts to protect students’ legal rights by rejecting censorship in school libraries. The ACLU of Massachusetts backs a bill, filed this session by state Senator Julian Cyr, that would ensure that public and school libraries can offer diverse and inclusive books, media, and materials without political interference.
For the ACLU of Massachusetts’ back-to-school resources, go to: https://www.aclum.org/en/exercise-your-right-learn
For more information about the ACLU of Massachusetts, go to: www.aclum.org