(New York, NY) — Students, teachers, and parents in York, PA have staged protests this month over an ongoing ban in the district of a set of books and other materials related to diversity, race, and anti-racism—all by creators of color. The district’s all-white board unanimously decided on the ban last fall, in response to some parents’ complaints over a set of materials included in a resource list compiled by the Central York High School Diversity Committee. District leaders claim that the use of the materials has just been “frozen” while they seek to implement a curriculum committee to vet the materials; in the meantime, schools have instructed teachers not to utilize any of the materials on the list in course instruction.

“District leaders are calling this a freeze, but this is a book ban, plain and simple—and it’s all the more outrageous in this instance because it’s targeting authors and creators of color,” said Jonathan Friedman, director of free expression and education at PEN America. “While disturbing, it’s not surprising. Craven political leaders are fueling a panic about supposedly ‘divisive concepts’ being taught in schools, and that in turn has sparked a wave of righteous but misguided parental calls for out and out censorship. For anyone who believes in liberty and choice, calling to ban books from a classroom should be anathema. The solution to creating a better classroom for our kids isn’t trying to cover their eyes from difficult or challenging books—even ones we disagree with. That’s not how education is supposed to work. The school district knows better and must reverse this ban immediately.”

Read more about what PEN America is doing to fight back against book bans during 2021 Banned Books Week.