FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DETROIT – As book-banning efforts proliferate statewide amidst alarming anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan (ACLU) sent a letter today urging Michigan’s public school districts to protect the constitutional rights of students and their families by opposing censorship in school libraries and fostering a learning environment that values the diversity of thought and critical inquiry essential to a healthy democracy.
The ACLU’s letter, which is being sent to hundreds of superintendents and school board presidents throughout the state, warns that removing books from school libraries violates students’ First Amendment rights. School libraries are a place where students may freely explore diverse topics and develop their own thinking and opinions, the letter explains, and banning books featuring LGBTQ+ themes, human sexuality, racism, and other important issues is a dangerous threat to the ability of our youth to become active and informed members of a diverse community and a democratic society.
Noting that book-banning is most often an effort to marginalize underrepresented voices, the ACLU’s letter highlights that current censorship efforts have been accompanied by alarming and dangerous rhetoric targeting LGBTQ+ students and their families. School libraries are uniquely situated to foster an inclusive environment in which all students are able to see themselves reflected in a diverse array of literature and informational material available to them — from literature by and about LGBTQ+ people, to religious texts of all faiths, to books about science, art, and history written from traditional as well as non-traditional perspectives.
Jay Kaplan, ACLU of Michigan Nancy Katz & Margo Dichtelmiller LGBTQ+ Rights Project Staff Attorney, has this statement:
“Together with public school students and their families all over the state, the ACLU of Michigan is monitoring this situation carefully and will take action if necessary to stop censorship and protect the rights of all children to safe and inclusive learning environments. In addition to threatening the First Amendment rights of all students, this wave of book-banning is an attack on LGTBQ+ children and their families, and it must be stopped. For countless youth who face bullying, isolation, and depression, access to LGBTQ+ representation or information in books and literature can be a refuge — and in some cases lifesaving. School libraries are places where young people should be able to learn about themselves and people who are different from themselves, not denied access to the diverse perspectives that books and literature offer us all.”
In addition to Kaplan, the letter was signed by ACLU of Michigan Executive Director Loren Khogali and ACLU of Michigan Legal Director Dan Korobkin.