Who Are The Groups Banning Books Near You?: Book Censorship News, September 23, 2022

Books

This week, PEN America released a report on the current state of book bans in the USA. The report discusses the 50+ “parents’ rights” groups operating across the country, both on the national and local levels, and how these groups are responsible or connected to at least half of the book bans that have taken place since July 2021. But who are these groups? Where are they located?

PEN’s report lays out and links to several stories about various groups, including this box exploring some of the nationally-organized groups.

PEN America graphic explaining who the major national book banning groups are.

Read the report, particularly this section, to get a sense of what ideas these groups are formed around. For the most part, it’s not just book bans. It’s the broader issue of “parental rights,” which became a movement in 2020 with parents demanding that schools “reopen” during the pandemic (the language here matters, as schools were open but operating virtually). The movement shifted in 2021 to demand that their children be unmasked in schools, and thereafter/simultaneously, to demanding oversight and say in curriculum and materials made available to students in schools.

The database linked here is not comprehensive, but represents a look at the groups who have been connected with or directly linked to book bans or challenges (or other curriculum changes under the guise of “parental rights”). Some are more active than others, and some have changed their names, consolidated, or otherwise reworked their structures even since this list was complied. Some are parent groups and others are political action groups. Many of the groups are linked to either their Facebook or website presence. Not all states are represented, which does not mean there are not groups in those states. There are not national groups or their affiliated chapters included; PEN outlines those nicely above, and the embedded Tweet above shows, in gold, where the biggest organization currently has active chapters.

List of regional groups advocating for “parental rights,” book censorship and/or curriculum input.

This is incomplete by nature, but if you know of others operating locally to you and want to help flesh out this resource, feel free to drop the name, web presence (if applicable), and state of operation in this document.

Book Censorship News: September 23, 2022

Of Note

This week, at least two major metropolitan public library systems (Denver and Fort Worth) have had credible threats against them, leading to their closure. While neither has shared the reasons behind them, that this happened during Banned Books Week is extremely concerning.

I was also on the City Cast Chicago podcast talking about banned books, about the ways censorship is happening in Illinois, and why school board elections are crucial. You can tune in here.

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