Book Bans Rising Rapidly in the U.S., Free Speech Groups Find

April 20, 2023 ☼ censorship

Source: The New York Times (Link)

Book bans are rising at a rapid pace in school districts around the United States, driven by new laws and regulations that limit what kinds of books children can access, according to a new report from PEN America, a free speech organization.

From July to December 2022, PEN found 1,477 cases of books being removed, up from 1,149 during the previous six months. Since the organization began tracking bans in July 2021, it has counted more than 4,000 instances of book removals using news reports, public records requests and publicly available data.

The numbers don’t reflect the full scope of the efforts, since new mandates in some states requiring schools to vet all their reading material for potentially offensive content have led to mass removals of books, which PEN was unable to track, the report says.

The statistic also fails to capture the rapid evolution of book restrictions into what many free speech organizations consider a worrisome new phase: Book bans are increasingly driven by organized efforts led by elected officials or activists groups whose actions can affect a whole district or state.