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Chairman Raskin to Hold Hearing Examining Political Attacks on Free Speech and Classroom Censorship

Washington D.C. (May 17, 2022)—On Thursday, May 19, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. ET, Rep. Jamie Raskin, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, will hold a hearing to examine 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.

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.

 

WHAT:  

 

Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties hearing entitled, “Free

Speech Under Attack (Part II):  Curriculum Sabotage and Classroom Censorship.”

 

WHEN:

Thursday, May 19, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. ET
 

WHO:    

 

Panel I

Elle Caldon
High School Student
Dallas County, Texas

Claire Mengel
High School Student
Hamilton County, Ohio

Krishna Ramani
High School Student
Oakland County, Michigan

Panel II

Willie Carver
Former Teacher, Montgomery County High School

Mount Sterling, Kentucky

 

Jennifer Cousins
Parent,
Orlando, Florida

 

Suzanne Nossel

Chief Executive Officer
PEN America

 

Timothy Snyder
Richard C. Levin Professor of History
Yale University

James Whitfield
Former Principal, Colley Heritage High School
Colleyville, Texas

Virginia Gentles
Director of the Education Freedom Center
Independent Women’s Forum

WATCH:

A livestream will be available on YouTube and the Committee on Oversight and Reform website.

 

MEDIA:

  

Seating in the hearing room is limited and as a result, credentialed media must RSVP to the Oversight Committee Democrats Press Office at [email protected] no later than 5 p.m. ET on May 18, 2022. 

 

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