A recent report by free-speech watchdog group PEN America reveals that there is a growing trend of restricting speech among educators in the United States.
The report highlights that 40 legal restrictions on educator speech have been enacted in 21 states, affecting approximately 1.3 million K-12 teachers and 100,000 public college and university professors, along with millions of students. The restrictions primarily target discussions related to race, U.S. history, and LGBTQ issues, with 110 bills introduced in state legislatures this year alone, 10 of which have become law. The report anticipates more and more restrictive bills in 2024, reflecting an ongoing crisis in the realm of free speech in education.
“For three legislative cycles, none of these bills have been especially popular with the general public. At the higher education level in particular, they faced stiff resistance and proved difficult to enforce. Nevertheless, throughout 2021 and 2022, this was the shape most educational gag orders took,” says the report from Pen America. “No longer. Since the start of 2023, PEN America has observed a new legislative trend in the country’s statehouses. Supporters of educational gag orders have begun to move on from past legislative approaches that have proven ineffective, in favor of new strategies to silence America’s educators.”
Read the full report here.