Book banning and censorship highlighted in Congressional hearing
WASHINGTON, D.C. - There’s a growing national battle over book banning and censorship in public schools. Many question if parents, the school board or the state have the right to remove books if they consider them inappropriate.
The American Library Association said within the 20 years they’ve tracked attempted book bans, this past year reached their highest number: 729 challenges, which resulted in nearly 16-hundred individual book challenges or removals. Most targeted books were by or about Black or LGBTQIA+ persons.
In a recent congressional oversight hearing, the contentious topic of book banning was the focus. Some congressional members argue we shouldn’t ban books because its part of free speech.
“If we cancel or censor everything that people find offensive nothing will be left,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D- MD). “Everybody is offended by something and that’s why other people’s level of offense cannot be the metric for defining whether your rights or my rights are vaporized.”
Others argue if there’s enough support against certain materials, it should be considered for removal.
“What I'm saying is do parents who are a large part of the community at large have an ability to lobby or engage with their elected officials on the local level to decide what’s in the room,” said Rep. Byron Donalds (R- FL). “I would say the answer to that is yes.”
The topic of book banning and censorship is reaching all corners of the U.S., including Pennsylvania. State Republican Senator Ryan Aument (R- Lititz) recently introduced legislation he said:
“...Would require schools to identify sexually explicit content in school curriculum, materials, and books and notify parents that their child’s coursework includes such content or that a book their child wishes to view in the school library contains explicit content. Parents would then have the opportunity to review the materials and the power to opt their children out of that coursework or prevent their child from viewing that particular book from the library.”
We asked his office for an interview but did not hear back.
The Senator’s press release on his legislation: click here.