PEN America Speaks: How We Defended and Celebrated Free Expression The Week of November 6
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’s new report, America’s Censored Classrooms 2023: Lawmakers Shift Strategies as Resistance Rises found that more educational gag orders became law this year than in 2022, though fewer were introduced, and the form and structure of such laws has changed dramatically. “Censorship advocates have spent years trying to sabotage the teaching of ideas they don’t like, and imposing their own views on our nation’s students,” said PEN America’s Jeremy C. Young, a lead author of the report.
- PEN America condemned the pulling of 300 book titles in Florida’s Collier Country Public school as a response to a new Florida censorship law that bans sexual content in schools. Kasey Meehan, Freedom to Read program director at PEN America said: “These books appear to be banned with little transparency and process. Once again we see a Florida school district erring on the side of extreme caution while navigating vague legislation.”
- PEN America expressed deep concern about the arrest of Palestinian author Ahed Tamimi. “Tamimi’s detention on the basis of protected expression cannot be justified.”
- PEN America criticized Brandeis University for its decision to revoke recognition of Students for Justice in Palestine on its campus, saying it had failed to point to any specific examples of how the chapter had violated the university’s student club policies.
- PEN America urged a Texas school to reverse the dismissal of a trans student from a lead role in a musical, ‘Oklahoma’. “This is a cruel decision guided by a ‘criteria’ that the district admits is applied unevenly. It is yet another example of threats to free expression for LGBTQ+ students, coming amid a wave of anti-LGBTQ+ book bans and educational gag orders limiting expression in public schools and restricting content on gender identity and sexual orientation.”
- PEN America expressed concern about the safety of 2023 PEN/Barbey Freedom to write honoree and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Narges Mohammadi, who announced a hunger strike in Iran’s Evin prison to protest the denial of essential medical care for inmates as well as mandatory hijab. Click here to write a letter today in solidarity.
- As Georgia advances a step closer to European Union membership, PEN America applauded Georgia’s civil society’s unwavering commitment to free expression and human rights.
- PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) participated in the ICRRA Conference. ARC’s Asia Regional Representative Manojna Yeluri presented in a case studies and panel discussion, “The role of cultural relations: case studies from around the world.”
- ARC organized a panel “Ukrainian Music as a Tool for Public Diplomacy and Democracy” at the 2023 WOMEX conference in A Coruña, Spain, chaired by ARC’s Regional Representative for Ukraine, Oleksandra Yakubenko, with Alona Dmukhovska, co-founder of Music Exports Ukraine NGO and Yuriy Gurzhy, musician, songwriter, DJ, and author.
- Moira Marquis, PEN America Prison, and Justice Writing Senior Manager, spoke about our recent report on prison censorship in an interview with The Guardian.
- PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel advised Meta to “take consequential recommendations more seriously” from its oversight board.
- ARC signed on to a statement to demand the release of Afghan women Neda Parwani, Zholia Parsi, and Manizha Sediqi, who were forcibly taken by the Taliban in the past month.
- ARC participated in the Workshop on the Construction of Inter-American Principles on Artistic Freedom of Expression and the Rights of Artists and Cultural Professionals held in Washington D.C.