Books

The School Board Project, Round One: Book Censorship News, May 13, 2022

School board elections are crucial. They have always been important, but in a time of increased censorship, with big money funding campaigns by right-wing activists at the local board level and newly-elected board members choosing to overreach in their power to remove books, there has never been a more vital time in American history to know who is representing your tax money and values.

While we know what school boards do, how do we know the rest of what is necessary to elect qualified, competent individuals for school boards? What if you happen to be a person interested in running for school board?

Enter The School Board Project.

Thanks to the help of dozens of volunteers and partners, we’re building a massive database of every school board, school board election, and related information for anyone to access. This simple database provides information that is challenging to find in isolation, let alone in a large, collective, searchable, and sortable way. Because this is the work of a small group of individuals with limited time, it is and will be a slow process, but we’ll release information in batches. The methodology for determining which states to prioritize is both an art and a science: these are states with high censorship rates and upcoming elections worth preparing for, either as a voter or a candidate.

The School Board Project allows anyone to download the spreadsheets and add any relevant information that helps them. For example: individuals or groups may find including the names and stances of those running for boards in the sheet to help guide voters and/or as a means of tracking the kind of topics that are producing the most discussion in those districts. It can be useful for those considering a run for school board to collect information about what they need to do to become eligible or how long they have to prepare for a run. The possibilities here are wide open.

Because of how challenging it is to collect all of this information, it is possible there are errors in the number of seats being elected, but we’ve done the best we can with the resources that are publicly available. The current states with data available are Florida, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Virginia. The next round of updates, which will be shared when they’re finished, will include several western and mountain states.

To use the School Board Project, you’ll need to open the document and save a copy. You can work from that copy and manipulate the information as appropriate for you.

Call To Action

PFLAG logo

Are you looking for more resources on fighting book challenges and legislation targeting LGBTQ+ people? PFLAG has launched a thorough landing page with ways to fight back, including how to engage allies. This has a wealth of powerful information.

For more ways to take action against censorship, use this toolkit for how to fight book bans and challenges, as well as this guide to identifying fake news. Then learn how and why you may want to use FOIA to uncover book challenges.

Book Censorship News: May 13, 2022

Image of formal complaint from VA Beach school board member about SAGA.

  • I’m not linking to the right-wing source on this one, but It’s Perfectly Normal has been challenged at East Central Regional Library in Minnesota.
  • Three books challenged in Canaan Schools (Vermont) will remain on shelves but the decision is likely to be challenged.
  • In Canyon ISD (Texas), a discussion of what merits books for reconsideration.
  • At the Westerly High School board meeting (RI), it’s possible that the student representative could be silenced. This story is something else.
  • “I don’t have an issue if we’re giving books that’s targeting education of the Civil War and slavery and there is racism even today, but this is obviously like shoving it down every corner,” he said. Valesky said there were four books on the list that “openly promote the hate group Black Lives Matter.”“That’s a group that is for destroying,” he said. “They aren’t protecting Black lives.” — There won’t be new books purchased for Penncrest’s school libraries (PA) quite yet because a board member complained.
  • Dirigo High School (ME) is reviewing Gender Queer after parental complaints. Warning that this purposefully misgenders the author throughout.
  • Here’s how much Central Bucks (PA) hates queer people.
  • Mississippi might hate queer people more.

Remember, this is the end goal:

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