The Biden Administration issued a fact sheet yesterday detailing three new actions to protect LGBTQI+ communities.
One of these actions is intended to "shield LGBTQI+ Americans from book bans” that allegedly threaten the civil rights of certain students.
The statement claims book bans disproportionately impact the LGBTQI+ communities, communities of color and other communities, although it’s unclear which other communities are meant to be included.
“Book banning erodes our democracy, removes vital resources for student learning, and can contribute to the stigma and isolation that LGBTQI+ people and other communities face,” the statement continues.
Therefore, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is announcing it will appoint a new coordinator to address the "growing threat that book bans pose for the civil rights of students.” The new coordinator will work to provide trainings for schools across the country on how book bans may violate federal civil rights laws.
Coincidentally, Dan Kleinman, the founder of Safe Libraries, just published an article on June 4, 2023, on this topic.
The article highlights the Board of Education (Island Trees School District) v. Pico case, which acknowledges that local school boards have broad discretion in forming educational policy, including what goes into the library, and that it does not constitute a direct infringement on first amendment rights to remove books that violate a school’s educational policy.
Guess that means it’s time to take a closer look at what BOE policies are already in place regarding school libraries, as well as any collection development policies that may be in use to guide the purchase of new books for the library.