By Emeline Crowder and Madison Whittemore
WASHINGTON, DC – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sent a letter to the House of Representatives this week, imploring House members to co-sponsor H.R. 6592, the Fight Book Bans Act, which will help provide schools with the resources needed to “fight attacks on their libraries” and censorship.
According to a statement. the ACLU thanked Rep. Maxwell Frost, a U.S. representative for Florida’s 10th congressional district, for authoring H.R. 6592, arguing the “legislation would fight censorship by enabling the Department of Education to provide grants to school districts to cover expenses incurred when they fight off book bans.”
In the same statement, the ACLU asserted “more than 3,000 books have been banned in schools across America. These books disproportionately feature stories about LGBTQ+ communities, people of color, and others who have been marginalized.”
The ACLU continued in its letter, explaining how detrimental book bans and censorship on reading materials can be, especially when they prevent “independent thinking by imposing one person’s views on other people’s children.”
The letter also highlighted the importance of people having access to all information, which in turn allows society to have “a broad and diverse array of reading materials (that) enables students to explore and learn to think for themselves.”
The ACLU statement notes the importance of the Fight Book Bans Act in protecting democracy, which is put in danger, it claims, when “the ability to discuss and debate ideas, even those that some may find uncomfortable” is censored and suppressed.
According to the ACLU letter, schools will be some of the biggest beneficiaries from this Act because, while many schools recognize the damage caused by book bans, they “simply don’t have the resources” to fight against the restrictions, noting how many schools cannot afford to have legal counsel, travel to hearings or retain expert research.
Urging the House of Representatives to support the bill, the letter states that “book bans to this effect are not only discriminatory – they are a violation of students’ First Amendment right to access information.”
Jenna Leventoff, ACLU senior policy counsel, explained, “The First Amendment protects the ability to access almost all information. School libraries enable students to exercise this right, as they can contain information on topics ranging from science, to art, to travel, as well as different viewpoints.”
According to the ACLU, not only would this bill ensure students have access to information but, as the letter states, this bill would also “create a more informed citizenry.”
The letter concludes by urging the House members to take action in supporting this act, maintaining, “We strongly urge you to cosponsor the Fight Book Bans Act. Doing so will send a message that you won’t sit still and enable censorship to thrive.”