Your browser is unsupported

We recommend using the latest version of IE11, Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

“Censored Stories: The Underrepresentation of Marginalized Groups”

Author: Saide Flores

Department: UIC Institute for Policy & Civic Engagement

Advisor: Dr. Joseph K. Hoereth, IPCE

Abstract: The 2021-2022 school year saw a rising trend of book restrictions in the classroom, library, and curriculum across the countries K-12 programs. PEN America’s Index of School Banned Books lists 1145 books which were placed under a ban or investigated during 2021-2022 throughout 86 school districts and 26 states. Of these titles, 41% contain a primary/secondary character of color, 22% contain themes of race/racism, 33% address LGBTQ+ themes, and 25% contain themes of puberty and sexual relationships (PEN America, 2022). This policy analysis seeks to examine the legislation in Texas, Missouri, Florida, and Utah that have led to book bans directly and indirectly while examining how these policies disproportionately impact marginalized communities (LGBTQ+, People of Color, and Women). States have used their legislative power to remove sensitive materials in schools, increase curriculum transparency, and involve parents’ opinions in the classroom. However, scholars argue the banning of books can remove topics from curriculum that lead to representation in literature and enable censorship of the stories of marginalized voices. Policy and legislation have been heavily left to interpretation due to the broad definition of sensitive materials. A policy implication of these bans is the acceptance of politicians using their own negative bias to control education and politics. Attention needs to be placed on the validity of individuals making educational decisions and current states jurisdictions for justifying book bans and potential impact of lack of representation in literature.

Keywords: Book bans, Policy, Library, Censorship, LGBTQ+, Marginalized Communities, Representation