(NEW YORK) – As the movement to ban books and censor classrooms continues to undermine free speech and academic freedom across our nation’s public schools, Senator Brian Schatz and Representative Jamie Raskin today led the introduction of companion resolutions condemning these sweeping attacks against the First Amendment rights of students, parents and educators. PEN America endorsed the resolution and praised the lawmakers’ commitment to preserving free expression in classrooms and libraries.

The introduction of these resolutions comes ahead of Banned Books Week (October 1-7,) an annual initiative co-sponsored by PEN America to raise awareness about efforts to restrict access to books. The bicameral effort also comes on the heels of PEN America’s latest report, Banned in the USA: The Mounting Pressure to Censor, which documented a 33% spike in public school book bans during the 2022-23 school year compared to the prior year.

Citing PEN America’s data, the resolutions point to the unprecedented rise of school book bans nationwide and how Black and LGBTQ+ authors and books about race, racism, and LGBTQ identities have been disproportionately affected in the wave of book bans since 2021. 

“The growing movement to ban books is eroding America’s proud history of celebrating – and defending – free expression as the hallmark of our democracy,” said Nadine Farid Johnson, managing director of PEN America Washington and Free Expression Programs. “Restrictions on the freedom to read and learn are turning our nation’s public schools into political battlegrounds, creating environments that make it impossible for our students to flourish and our educators to do their jobs. We applaud Representative Raskin, Senator Schatz, and the co-sponsors for spearheading these timely resolutions, which highlight the troubling rise in educational censorship and reaffirm the importance of protecting Americans’ First Amendment rights.” 

PEN America has been at the forefront of documenting and defending against the wave of book bans sweeping the nation. Depriving students of literary works flies in the face of basic constitutional freedoms and PEN America is suing Escambia County, Florida, over its book bans.

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. To learn more visit PEN.org

Contact: Jonny Levenfeld, [email protected], 202-704-4535