“Once the Books Start Coming Off the Shelves, We’ll See You In Court.”: Book Censorship News, June 17, 2022

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Danika Ellis

Associate Editor

Danika spends most of her time talking about queer women books at the Lesbrary. Blog: The Lesbrary Twitter: @DanikaEllis

When putting together the book censorship news this week, it felt like each story was trying to one up the next, ranging from the ridiculous to the truly chilling. We’re seeing an increase in lawsuits and legal involvement, from residents suing officials for banning books, to parents suing teachers for reading LGBTQ books in class, to the ACLU planning legal action against a school’s new book challenge policy.

This is why Kelly Jensen and I keep emphasizing that simply reading banned books or buying them isn’t enough: this is a systemic issue, and it needs a systemic solution. We need to organize in order to fight back against this wave of censorship, and that includes paying attention to who is getting elected to school and library boards — if you have the opportunity, running for these positions is one of the most effective ways that you as an individual can fight censorship.

In May, we announced the School Board Project, which is a database in progress that documents every school board and school board election in the country, state by state. It’s a massive project, but we’ve been chipping away it, prioritizing the states that have school board elections coming up. Eventually, we hope to do the same thing for library boards.

As Kelly explained, this is meant to be a resource that you can build on for your own local activism:

The School Board Project allows anyone to download the spreadsheets and add any relevant information that helps them. For example: individuals or groups may find including the names and stances of those running for boards in the sheet to help guide voters and/or as a means of tracking the kind of topics that are producing the most discussion in those districts. It can be useful for those considering a run for school board to collect information about what they need to do to become eligible or how long they have to prepare for a run. The possibilities here are wide open.

Today, I’m happy to announce round two of the School Board Project. In addition to the states already included in round one — Florida, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Virginia — we have also documented the upcoming school board elections, and how many seats are available, in Kentucky, Nebraska, and Wyoming.

a screenshot of a Google spreadsheet titled School Board Project, with school district names, the next election, the number of seats up next election, and the school board website

Just open the document and save a copy, and then you can add any extra information or delete states that aren’t relevant to you.

We’d also like to get in contact with grassroots anti-censorship organizations that are helping people with these values run for school or library boards. If you know of any groups like this, especially on the state level or smaller, please let us know!

Call To Action

a screenshot of the Literary Activism newsletter sign up page

If you want to be involved in literary activism and the fight against censorship, one easy thing you can do is sign up for our Literary Activism newsletter. We’ll keep you updated about the latest relevant news as well as give you practical tips for how you can help in the first against censorship. It’s also the best way to make sure you see this Censorship News Roundup every week!

Book Censorship News: June 17, 2022