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Advocates Launch “Freedom to Read” Coalition to Fight Book Bans Across South Carolina

Advocates Launch “Freedom to Read” Coalition to Fight Book Bans Across South Carolina

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE October 27, 2022

CONTACT: Laura Swinford, ACLU of South Carolina, laura@gpsimpact.com

Columbia, S.C. — Advocates and community leaders today launched “Freedom to Read SC,” a statewide coalition that will work to defeat unconstitutional efforts to ban books from school and public libraries. The Coalition includes educational organizations, civil rights groups, religious entities, and others who are committed to free speech and the free exchange of ideas.

“Book bans are in direct violation of the First Amendment, which guarantees all Americans the right to access information and the freedom to read without censorship. Without a doubt, school boards, library boards, and municipal governments that are banning books are running afoul of the Constitution,” said Jace Woodrum, executive director of ACLU of South Carolina. “We urge policymakers to stop this blatantly unconstitutional censorship. Whether we like a book or not, agree with it or not, none of us has the power to supersede the values instilled in the First Amendment.”

Freedom to Read SC will call attention to efforts to ban books in public libraries and school districts throughout the Palmetto state, while organizing and advocating for all South Carolinians’ First Amendment right to access information.

“Librarians are highly trained in evaluating and selecting quality books that meet state curriculum standards and reflect South Carolina students’ varied life experiences,” said Tamara Cox, President of the South Carolina Association of School Librarians. “Even though librarians follow school board-approved purchasing policies, we are seeing a disturbing trend of administrators and school board members overriding their own reconsideration policies and removing books without proper review. Some librarians have been targets of harassment and threats from those who seek to limit intellectual freedoms protected by the First Amendment. Many of these censorship attempts are coordinated by politically- motivated groups outside of education and target books written by or about people of color or other marginalized groups.”

“As a parent, I want my children to develop the skills to interact compassionately with many different kinds of people. Restricting their access to books makes it harder for them to learn about people different from them, and creates a false and narrow version of the society they will inherit,” said Brittany Arsiniega, mother of two children.

The Coalition includes:

  • Alliance for Full Acceptance
  • American Association of University Professors SC
  • ACLU of South Carolina
  • Campaign for Southern Equality
  • E3 Foundation
  • Grand Strand Pride
  • Harriet Hancock Center Foundation
  • League of Women Voters of South Carolina
  • Lowcountry Black Parents Association
  • Jewish Community Relations Council of the Charleston Jewish Federation
  • National Action Network of Columbia
  • SC Association of School Librarians
  • SC United for Justice and Equality
  • South Carolina NAACP Conference Youth and College Division
  • South Carolina Unitarian Universalist Justice Alliance
  • Upstate LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce
  • Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network (WREN)

Follow Freedom to Read SC on Facebook for information on local efforts to ban and restrict access to books: https://www.facebook.com/free2readSC