A new report by PEN America gives Pennsylvania the dubious distinction of being the state with the second highest number of books banned, with 456 bans across nine school districts.
“Because of the tactics of censors and the politicization of books we are seeing the same books removed across state lines: books about race, gender, LGBTQ+ identities, and sex most often,” said Jonathan Friedman, director of PEN America’s Free Expression and Education program and lead author of the report. “This is an orchestrated attack on books whose subjects only recently gained a foothold on school library shelves and in classrooms. We are witnessing the erasure of topics that only recently represented progress toward inclusion.”
The report, Banned in the USA, raises the alarm about how book bans threaten free expression and students’ First Amendment rights. It examined 86 districts across 26 states representing over 2 million students and found 1,145 titles banned by 874 different authors, 198 illustrators, and nine translators. This data covers just the past nine months.
According to the report, “PEN America defines a school book ban as any action taken against a book based on its content and as a result of parent or community challenges, administrative decisions, or in response to direct or threatened action by lawmakers or other governmental officials, that leads to a previously accessible book being either completely removed from availability to students, or where access to a book is restricted or diminished.”
Texas leads the list with 713 bans across 16 districts, with Florida, Oklahoma, and Kansas rounding out the top five behind Pennsylvania.
Pennridge School District was showcased in PEN’s report for its handling of the book “Heather Has Two Mommies.” Bucks County has become ground zero in Pennsylvania in the fight over banning and censoring books.
Read more of the Bucks County Beacon’s book banning coverage here: