(WASHINGTON)— In response to President Biden’s announcement that he will appoint an anti-book ban coordinator in the Education Department, PEN America’s Washington Managing Director Nadine Farid Johnson issued the following statement on Thursday:

 “The growing movement to ban books—especially books focused on the experiences of people of color and the LGBTQ+ community—represents a threat not just to the rights enshrined in the First Amendment, but to the well-being of students, who deserve to see themselves represented in works of literature and nonfiction. President Biden’s actions today make clear that he is both treating these bans with the seriousness they deserve and recognizing that the majority of Americans do not want school boards or other elected officials misusing their positions to take books out of kids’ hands.”

PEN America has been at the forefront of documenting and defending against the unprecedented rise of school book bans nationwide. Texas, Florida and Missouri lead with the most books banned. Depriving students of exemplary literary works flies in the face of basic constitutional freedoms and PEN America is suing Escambia County, Florida, over its book bans. Black and LGBTQ+ authors and books about race, racism, and LGBTQ+ identities have been disproportionately affected in the book bans documented by PEN America in the last year and a half. The wave of book banning is worse than anything seen in decades with PEN America counting more than 4,000 book bans since the fall of 2021. 

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: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], 201-247-5057