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First Amendment Rights of Students in the Context of Book Bans
Friday, October 27, 2023
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
1.0 hour of CLE (pending approval)
Friday, October 27, 2023
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
Q&A Session to follow the program.
The freedom to read is under assault in the United States—particularly in public schools—curtailing students’ freedom to explore words, ideas, and books. In the 2022–23 school year, from July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023, PEN America recorded 3,362 instances of book bans in US public school classrooms and libraries. These bans removed student access to 1,557 unique book titles, the works of over 1,480 authors, illustrators, and translators. Authors whose books are targeted are most frequently female, people of color, and/or LGBTQ+ individuals.
In Board of Education, Island Trees Union Free School District v. Pico, 457 U.S. 853 (1982), the Supreme Court stated: “Our Constitution does not permit the official suppression of ideas.” The ruling affirmed the “special characteristics” of the school library, making it “especially appropriate for the recognition of the First Amendment rights of students,” including the right to access information and ideas. The central holding of Pico, on page 872 of the decision, was “[L]ocal school boards may not remove books from school library shelves simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books and seek by their removal to prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion.”
Nadine Farid Johnson and Tasslyn Magnusson will provide an overview of book bans in the U.S. as well as the recent Illinois legislation prohibiting book bans. This virtual webinar will be moderated by Francis A. Citera.
Tasslyn Magnusson, Panelist
Tasslyn Magnusson is a Program Consultant with Freedom to Read at PEN America. She researches censorship attempts in the K-12 libraries and supports PEN America’s work in creating resources to support authors whose work is targeted. Tasslyn received her BA from University of Minnesota-Morris, MA from Hamline University and a PhD in American History from Case Western Reserve University.
Nadine Farid Johnson, Panelist
Nadine Farid Johnson serves as the Managing Director of PEN America Washington and Free Expression Programs. A multidisciplinary leader with a longtime focus in foreign policy and constitutional issues, she has a breadth of experience across the public and private sectors. In Washington, Nadine spearheads PEN America’s engagement with the United States government on free expression issues in the U.S. and around the globe, focusing on matters of foreign policy, tech policy, privacy, press freedom, and educational censorship. She is the co-author of PEN America’s Speech in the Machine: Generative AI’s Implications for Free Expression (2023) and its seminal report on school book bans, Banned in the USA: The Growing Movement to Censor Books in Schools (2022). Nadine has testified before Congress as a constitutional expert and is a frequent media contributor, with commentary in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, World Politics Review, Al Jazeera, The Hill, The Daily Beast, NPR, and other national and international publications, and appearances on outlets including PBS and CNN International.
Nadine is a former United States diplomat whose work spanned the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and multilateral affairs. She served as the executive director of the ACLU of Kansas, and was previously a professor of constitutional, international, and intellectual property law at Gonzaga University and a Climenko Fellow and Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School.
In the private sector, Nadine worked as a patent litigator and later oversaw operations and community engagement programming at Google in Los Angeles. She is a graduate of DePauw University and Tulane Law School, and studied at the U.S. Naval War College.
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