State legislative proposals restricting freedom to learn and teach have increased by 250% in 2022 compared to last year, according to a recent report released by free expression and literary organization PEN America.
“America’s Censored Classrooms” analyzes 137 educational gag orders introduced in 36 states so far this year. Although only a small number were enacted, the volume and pace of proposals against teaching U.S. history, race, LGBTQ+ identities, and other essential topics has been immense.
“Our report documents in alarming detail the threats to how young people learn and are taught in American schools,” said Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America. “Lawmakers are undermining the role of our public schools as a unifying force above politics and turning them instead into a culture war battleground. By seeking to silence critical perspectives and stifle debate, they are depriving students of the tools they need to navigate a diverse and complex world.”
Other key findings in the report are that this year’s bills have been more punitive than last year’s and that the bills have been driven overwhelmingly by Republican lawmakers;. Additionally, most bills have continued to suppress teaching of race, but LGBTQ+ identities are an increasing focus of censorship; and students and teachers report bills have stunted learning.