All over the country the freedom to read and teach is under attack. In Orange County, District Leadership has already pulled titles by LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC authors off shelves to the detriment of the children they were intended to serve.
A small but vocal group under the guise of “Parents’ Rights” has found themselves with a substantial influence over what information is available to Orange County students. We need your help to ensure our students have the freedom to read. Please send an email to the school board today.
Then, attend the school district meeting on January 25th at 4pm. All meetings are held in the School Board Meeting Room of the Ronald Blocker Educational Leadership Center, 445 W. Amelia St., in downtown Orlando.
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With a little support and training by dark money PACs, they have been able to motivate OCPS leadership to withhold a number of LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC titles from school library shelves, thus infringing on the First Amendment rights of its students. Claims are made that these materials are “obscene” by citing explicit excerpts out of context and without considering the entirety of the literary work. These censorship efforts are intentional, seek to undermine public education and erase the marginalized voices and perspectives of people that would connect with the diverse student body in OCPS (this includes an audience of young adult readers in which 20% identify as LGBTQIA+ youth).
By patrolling the conversations and thoughts safely discussed in the classroom and accessible in the library, public education will falter. Students will not be adequately prepared to apply the critical thinking necessary to succeed in today’s diverse workforce. That’s why level-headed Orange County citizens like yourself need to express your concerns now before it’s too late.
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The threats of civil and criminal punishment being held over our educators have led to quiet shadow banning (books appear available in the online catalogue but cannot be checked-out when requested) and self-censoring (people responsible for building the library collection purposely leave out controversial titles) in addition to the administrative removal of books following “public spectacles” at OCPS Board Meetings. Leadership claims it has been done in an effort to avoid “substantial disruption” to the classroom, but they know that’s a disingenuous excuse to cover up their infringement of our children’s right to read.
District Leadership can pull books from the classroom curriculum as they see fit. Parents have the right to screen what their own children read. But it stops there. No one parent or government entity should be able to prevent all students from accessing information and ideas at the library.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment prohibits schools from removing materials from library shelves based on viewpoint or content. Now, as censorship flares up in our schools, it’s our obligation to safeguard that freedom for all the students in our community.
Please sign this petition to let Orange County School Board representatives know that you stand against censorship.