In the months since last fall, when I wrote about what donors need to know about the fight over Critical Race Theory, the fight over what students can be taught in schools has escalated dramatically. 

In fact, as of this spring, 42 states have proposed legislation, and 17 states have passed laws and/or taken some other state action that censor classroom discussion about race, gender, and sexual orientation. Beyond the wave of localized book bans, many states, including Oklahoma and Tennessee, are pushing for statewide rules that would make it easier for critics to remove books they dislike from classrooms and school libraries. The reach of this censorship in classrooms continues to grow. First, it was on how we teach history and talk about race and racism. Now lawmakers are drafting policies that would silence conversation around gender identity and sexual orientation and remove curriculum that supports the development of critical social-emotional skills

However, despite the influx of educational gag orders being pushed through state legislatures across the country, there is a bright spot in our fight for an anti-racist education. 

To date, 17 states have made an effort to expand education on racism, bias, and the contributions of specific racial or ethnic groups to U.S. history. We are seeing grassroots action from parents and students nationwide to fight against the ongoing educational gag orders. In Plano, Texas, two Black parents have helped add much needed voices to the education debate in their conservative, white community. Additionally, politically neutral educational organizations are also taking a stand. The College Board recently issued a reminder of their principles and stated if schools banned certain topics and/or censored instruction, they would lose their Advanced Placement status. There are also dozens of education equity and racial advocacy organizations that are fighting behind-the-scenes day in and day out to ensure an honest teaching of America’s history in schools.

All these efforts are vital to a flourishing democracy and it’s imperative we continue supporting organizations that are pushing back against the bans and censorship to avoid future danger and harm to our students and our society. Bans on books and censoring lesson plans that teach a complete history of America and explores the different cultures and communities that make up the fabric of our country prevent young people from developing empathy and important life skills. And it’s clear the majority of Americans agree. 

A recent CBS News poll found that majorities of Americans don’t think books should be banned from schools for discussing race or criticizing U.S. history, and that teaching about the history of race in America makes students understand what others went through. Additionally, a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll found that nearly three quarters of Americans support teaching high school students about the impacts of slavery and racism in the U.S. 

So many of us want an honest and inclusive education for our children but it’s critical that we make our collective voices heard. It’s up to all of us to fight against the crusade happening nationwide aimed at censoring and banning an honest and inclusive education. 

Here’s What We Can Do

The time to act is now. Although we have seen some wins and made some progress in the fight for an anti-racist education, it will require all of us to come together, engage, and take action to effectively push back on the continuing attacks, bans, and censorship. There has never been a more urgent time to get involved. The proponents of these bans and hate-filled policies are exceedingly well-funded and motivated to win. If you have the resources, I encourage you to consider supporting the following organizations who are leading the charge for an anti-racist education and fighting for a more honest and just accounting of America’s history. 

Education Equity Advocates

Racial Justice Advocates

Additional Equity-focused Organizations Supporting Students and Parents