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Exposing the Impact of Curriculum and Book Bans: Education for the Public and Not the Few

The freedom to read is under assault in the United States – particularly in public schools – curtailing students’ freedom to explore words, ideas, and books, as well as to engage in a full and accurate civics education in the classroom. In the 2022-23 school year, from July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023, PEN America recorded 3,362 instances of book bans in US public school classrooms and libraries. These bans removed student access to 1,557 unique book titles, the works of over 1,480 authors, illustrators, and translators. Authors whose books are targeted for banning are disproportionately female, LGBTQ+, and/or Black, Indigenous or of color.

Kasey Meehan of PEN America will provide an overview of the rise in book bans in the U.S., followed by a panel discussion on the harmful effects of book bans and curriculum limitations and what role the law can play in combating them. Moderated by PEN America’s Legal Fellow, Elly Brinkley.



  • Robert S. Chang – Executive Director, Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality, and Professor of Law, Seattle University School of Law
  • Kasey Meehan – Program Director, Freedom to Read, PEN America
  • Matt Nosanchuk – Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights
  • Cameron Samuels – Executive Director, Students Engaged in Advancing Texas (SEAT)
  • Elly Brinkley (Moderator) – Legal Fellow, U.S. Free Expression Programs, PEN America