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 Florida director Katie Blankenship wrote that in the recent legislative session in Florida, PEN America’s advocacy led to several wins, including successfully opposing a bill that aimed to make it easier for public figures to sue journalists, a measure that sought to ban gay pride flags and other protected speech, and a bill that would penalize students for “promoting” foreign terrorist organizations.
  • Laura Schroeder, the Congressional Affairs lead for PEN America, criticized the House’s passage of a bill to ban TikTok, stating it sets a troubling precedent and urging the Senate to reject it or for President Biden to veto it. PEN America signed a letter with other advocacy organizations expressing deep concern over the bill’s violation of free speech rights and its potential to empower authoritarian practices internationally.
  • As civic discourse and social cohesion continue to face considerable headwinds amid worsening political polarization in the United States, PEN America endorsed the reintroduction of the Building Civic Bridges Act, which seeks to address political polarization and fragmentation.
  • Moira Marquis, Senior Manager at the PEN America Free Write project, celebrated the publication of Books Through Bars: Stories from the Prison Books Movement, a collection of inspiring stories from the prison book movement and a guide for people who want to swell its ranks. Read more about her book in a Q and A here!
  • Blankenship welcomed the settlement in Equality Florida v. Florida State Board of Education regarding HB 1557, known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, saying it would protect classrooms from some of the bill’s most dangerous implications. But she said PEN America would continue to fight against the law’s chilling effect on protected expression.
  • Jonathan Friedman and Elly Brinkley wrote about the rights of free speech for professors outside classrooms, focusing on the case of Professor Jairo Fúnez-Flores at Texas Tech University, whose social media posts led to allegations of antisemitism and discriminatory harassment.
  • PEN America warned that Florida’s passage of House Bill 3, requiring parental consent for minors to use social media, likely violates the First Amendment and imposes unnecessary restrictions on free speech, urging Governor Ron DeSantis to veto the bill to prevent further censorship and potential costly litigation.
  • Jeremy C Young and Jacqueline Allain wrote for University News about why Americans must speak up to defend university autonomy. 

See previous PEN America updates