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The Freedom to Read Act

Students deserve to see their experiences reflected in the classroom while learning about diverse communities. But across the country, activists have aggressively challenged books about communities of color and LGBTQIA+ people. During the 2022-2023 school year, PEN America documented 3,362 book banning incidents involving 1,557 books. Thirty percent of these books are about race, racism, or feature characters of color, while over a quarter include LGBTQIA+ characters or themes. New York is no exception: a Journal News investigation found that more than 200 complaints were filed about books in Hudson Valley school districts between 2020 and 2022. Even where complaints are unsuccessful, they may lead educators to avoid teaching or sharing books that address themes of race, gender, and sexual orientation.

S.6350 (May)/A.6873-B (O’Donnell) addresses this problem by empowering school library staff to curate collections that provide students access to the widest array of developmentally appropriate materials available. The NYCLU supports this bill and urges its expedient passage.

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Civil Liberties Union