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Diverse media must be protected in NYC public schools

Street Lab (Uni Project)
Street Lab

A Staten Island school is under investigation after hundreds of books focused on marginalized communities and topics were found in the trash, according to the New York City Department of Education. Such actions raise concerns about the dangers of censorship in schools.

Books were found behind PS 55, the Henry M. Boehm School, with notes labeling the reason for throwing each book out. Such notes included “Our country has no room and it’s not fair,” on “My Two Border Towns,” an immigration story, according to The Gothamist.

Book bans have been increasingly concerning across the nation as local school boards have a broad range of possibilities regarding the control of materials distributed in classrooms.

This is not the first incident of media censorship in schools as 1,477 book ban cases were recorded in the first six months of the 2022-2023 school year, according to PEN America.

The removal of LGBTQ as well as people of color-based literature also leans on infringement of the First Amendment. Removing such literature takes away access to books that many students rely on their schools for.

Quality of education is severely reduced as banned books often represent a variety of perspectives that help students develop socially and intellectually.

Providing and implementing policies such as the Freedom to Read Act which protects the liberties of school librarians and teachers, are essential to the curation of a safe and supportive learning environment.

Several major publishing companies also came together to sign a letter out of concern of “silent or unacknowledged censorship” in NYC schools after the PS 55 incident, according to SILive.

 “Our public schools do not shy away from books that teach students about the diverse people and communities that make up the fabric of our society. We do not condone the messages found on these books,” a spokesperson for the DOE told ABC News.

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