PEN America works tirelessly to defend free expression, support persecuted writers, and promote literary culture. Here are some of the latest ways PEN America is speaking out.

  • PEN America launched a report this week, Educational Intimidation: How ‘Parents’ Rights’ Legislation Undermines the Freedom to Learn, documenting the nationwide campaign to restrict instruction about race, sexuality, and gender in public schools.
  • In the report, PEN America found an alarming subset of laws and bills that specifically target LGBTQ+ representation and put pressure on educators to “monitor” and report on students’ gender identity or sexual orientation. 
  • Teachers and librarians told PEN America about the climate of fear these laws have created in their schools.
  •  PEN America condemns the raid and arrest of Egyptian journalist Karim Asaad, during which he and his wife were assaulted in their home, along with the ongoing detention of writer and publisher Hisham Kassem, which casts “serious doubt” on Egypt’s commitment to reform.
  • PEN America condemned the calls to remove a book from a Princeton University syllabus and fire a professor as “highly misguided” and “unwarranted.” The book in question, slated for inclusion in a course called “The Healing Humanities — Decolonizing Trauma Studies from the Global South,” critiques the state of Israel’s policies toward Palestinians. In response, Jonathan Friedman, PEN America’s program director for Free Expression and Education, said: “If we scrubbed college campuses of any book that could cause any offense, we would be left with a fairly barren environment for academic inquiry.”
  • Viktorya Vilk, the director for Digital Safety and Free Expression, said “Removing the block button–a critical tool that so many writers, journalists, artists, and other users need to protect themselves from attempts to silence them with hate and harassment” — in response to a thread on Twitter (now known as “X”) from Elon Musk that suggests he may end the platform’s block button. PEN America’s 2021 report No Excuse for Abuse includes a section that specifically highlights blocking as a safety tool to mitigate abuse online. 
  • PEN America called on Daytona State College in Florida to reschedule a photo exhibition by Jon Henry in light of a dispute over why the show was cancelled. PEN America received a letter claiming the show was cancelled because his photographs, referencing police violence, would “call negative attention to the college and conflict with their educational program on training future police officers.” 
  • PEN America was among civil society organizations, independent media outlets, and individuals, join together to stand in solidarity with Egyptian fact-checking and independent media platform Matsadaash, following its recent targeting by Egyptian security services.
  • PEN America was among the organizations strongly condemning the latest incident of judicial harassment against journalist Barış Pehlivan and reiterating calls to the Turkish authorities to respect media freedom.

See previous PEN America updates