Are You With the Banned? 5 Tips To Fight Book Banning Efforts
Empower yourself and others to stand up to book bans.
The growth of book challenges in the past few years is chilling. Organized and noisy groups are pushing this agenda despite many polls showing it is unpopular with most Americans. In the face of this, the traditional argument, “If you don’t like it, don’t read it,” needs to be revised. Their concerns for their children take precedence over any rights you and your (and their) children have. This new battle requires different tools.
What Can You Do?
First up, pay attention. Make sure you know who’s on your school board and the agenda of those meetings, and make sure you vote in elections. Show up. Often, those opposed to book bannings find themselves in reaction mode. Groups are pushing these bans, and they have a playbook. Make sure they know that an organized force opposes them. The internet is your friend. All of those groups have websites. Take a good look. Learn their tactics and seek help from organizations with a history of fighting them. Don’t wait to organize.
Second, read the books and know your facts. Why? Because those demanding their removal often don’t, but that does not stop them from reading aloud from a “damning” passage, free of context. Being able to say that, as a parent, you’ve read it and can provide the context to decision-makers gives you the expertise they lack. It also lets you use one of their arguments against them: securing parental rights. Yours.
Sign the petition to fight book bans!
Another area to pay attention to is hiring practices. In the past decade, administrative positions in schools have exploded. At the same time, they lack funds to hire a professional school librarian or nurse. Check in on your district’s employment board. If they open a role, demand they show the purpose of that role while backing up hiring and supporting a librarian.
Third, show your teachers and librarians your support. They are the ones finding themselves on the front lines of this battle. While there, they are on the receiving end of anger and threats. Make sure you let them know they are not fighting this alone. Take the time for a kind word, interject if you see them under attack, and let the library or school board know they have allies.
Fourth, support your kids and their friends in this battle. In many communities, students themselves have organized to fight these bans. Tell your kids you agree. After all, students also have First Amendment rights, including the right to read. Offer to let them use your home to organize and help them create and practice their presentations to stakeholders. Doing this sews seeds of confidence and civic responsibility.
Finally, time moves in only one direction: forward. Children don’t stay kids. At some point, they will leave home and make their own lives. The odds are that your kids will have BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ co-workers and bosses. This new world is demanding more awareness and empathy. By taking away one of the few places where kids can learn about people of different religions, ethnicities, and cultures, parents are putting those kids at a disadvantage in the future workplace. Pointing this out to business leaders in your community might be okay too.
Books are physical objects and carriers of ideas and stories, allowing us to understand and learn from their creators. That is the power of literature. It gives people a voice. When books come under threat, the stories they hold do as well. Bans send the message that some stories have less validity, and, by extension, so do some lives. Silence, in this case, literally equals death. Opposing a banning is a clear message: We value all lives and the voices they share with us.
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