Maryland congressman Jamie Raskin, chairman of the Congressional Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, has announced that he will hold a second hearing on May 19 to explore the troubling wave of censorship and book banning around the country.
The hearing, set for 10:00 a.m. ET, will focus on the "ongoing efforts to prohibit discussion in K-12 classrooms about American history, race, and LGBTQ+ issues and to punish teachers who violate vague and discriminatory state laws by discussing these topics." The hearing will be livestreamed on the on YouTube and on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Committee website.
A release describing the hearing states:
"Over the past year, 17 states have passed legislation or enacted executive orders prohibiting the teaching of certain topics related to race, and many states are following Florida’s lead in introducing and passing so-called “Don’t Say Gay” legislation, which seeks to prohibit classroom discussion of gender and sexuality in many contexts. Proponents of these laws claim they are meant to promote parental rights and transparency, but they are being used to attack teachers, undermine public education, and impose the will of a minority of parents on the majority.
Much of the legislation that has been enacted or proposed recently around the country is vaguely written to ban a large swath of literature, curriculum, historical topics, and other media in classrooms. These laws are designed to have a chilling effect on how schools educate children and have resulted in the targeting of teachers. One teacher in Missouri was fired for using a single worksheet addressing racial issues in an elective literature class. A Florida teacher, with 11 years of experience, resigned after parents demanded he face “consequences” for acknowledging to his students that he was gay and married. A limited survey conducted by Reuters found that 220 death threats have been leveled against school officials.
The movement to censor classroom discussion is growing more extreme with proposed legislation that resembles policies implemented in authoritarian regimes. The hearing will examine the impact these laws have on teachers and students and the threat they pose to free speech."
Among those set to testify are parents, students, educators, as well as Suzanne Nossel, Chief Executive Officer of PEN America, and Timothy Snyder, Richard C. Levin Professor of History at Yale University and author of the bestselling book On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century.
The hearing follows an April 7th hearing that also explored "efforts to ban books are part of a broader attack on free speech" in libraries and classrooms.