C********* in Schools


Cassie Weymouth, Editor-in-Chief

Debates on censorship in the U.S. education system have roared back to life at a pace not seen in decades. From banning books and flags to shutting down school publications and restricting the content that teachers may include in their lessons, the debate for what is appropriate in schools has hit a new level. Up and down the country from Nebraska to Florida and even in our own backyard new bills, policies and bans have appeared. Parents have demanded more oversight in school board decisions raising questions about education, democracy and the right to a free and equal education.

Gender Queer, Lawn Boy, Out of Darkness, The Hate U Give and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian are only five of the 1,648 books that have been banned in U.S. schools from 2021 to 2022 alone. All of these books include predominant themes such as race, LGBTQ, protagonists of color or titles with themes of rights and activism.

Beyond just banning books outright, schools have also increased their soft censorship – a way to quietly regulate what students read. This includes putting warning labels on certain books, requiring parent permission or other techniques to make books less accessible. Many free speech advocates find issues with this tactic – especially when these books overwhelmingly surround civil rights themes.

Book bans aren’t the only form of censorship in recent years. Many schools seem to be following a trend of officials attempting to prevent the distribution of yearbooks or publications dealing with LGBTQ issues. The most recent instance being at Northwest High School in Grand Island, Nebraska. This first began on March 31, when the sitting principal informed students in the journalism program of a new rule; the students, three of which are transgender, were required to use the names they were given at birth due to the “controversial” nature of their preferred names. After student journalists dedicated their final issue to the LGBTQ community, the school newspaper, which had been running for the past 54 years, was shut down due to an “administrative” decision. Despite the backlash this has caused it is hardly the first time students’ voices have been shut down. 

Last May, school officials in Longwood, Fl required stickers to cover a photo of students protesting a new state law, known as the “Don’t Say Gay Bill”, prohibiting discussion about sexual orientation in the classroom. This law introduced by Florida’s GOP Governor Ron DeSantis, bans lessons and discussions on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade as the topic was deemed inappropriate. It has raised huge opposition with many stating this as an attempt to erase LGBTQ identity and  will harm LGBTQ youth. 

These debates aren’t just raging in Florida, but in our own backyard as well. Carroll County’s policy allows only the Maryland state flag, Carroll County flag, banners for academic achievement, sports tournament banners, pro and college sports team banners and flags from other countries to be on school property. In other words, the pride flag has been banned. Carroll County’s Board of Education President, Kenneth Kiler, reasons that flags have done nothing to stop the bullying or harrassment of LGBTQ youth. Many, however, strongly oppose this as the pride flag represents acceptance and a safe place where LGBTQ are acknowledged and seen.

Censorship has become a large point of contention across the country. But it is still clear that despite opposition,censorship prevails.