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ACLU of Michigan pushes schools to reject book bans

Abhi Sharma

ACLU of Michigan sent a letter to public school districts on Tuesday, urging them to take a stance against book bans. The group says censoring books violates students’ First Amendment rights.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan sent a letter on Tuesday, urging Michigan’s public schools to oppose book bans in school libraries. The letter, which went to hundreds of superintendents and school board presidents, says book bans and censorship violate students’ First Amendment rights.

In the letter, ACLU of Michigan says recent banning efforts leave important literature and information surrounding LGBTQ+ people, human sexuality and racism, among other topics, at risk. It also says censorship efforts in the state have been joined by rhetoric targeting LGBTQ+ students and their families. “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,” Jay Kaplan, ACLU of Michigan LGBTQ+ Rights Project Staff Attorney, said. “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.”

Supporters of the bans have widely said books in question include inappropriate content and have expressed concerns about these books’ effects on children.

ACLU of Michigan’s letter comes ahead of the November election, where conversations around book banning have become prevalent. Notably in West Michigan, a library in Jamestown Township was defunded in August, over its collection of LGBTQ+ books. A millage restore that funding, is on this month’s ballot.

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