Schools should be a safe place for all students, regardless of their identities. But Tennessee’s anti-truth, anti-LGBTQ+, and censorship laws deny our children that safety by putting them at risk of immediate and future harm and leaving them with an incomplete, whitewashed version of history.
During the last legislative session, we worked closely with the Education Trust – Tennessee (EdTrust) and RALLY to implement a statewide digital campaign to advocate against several censorship bills. One of our big wins was when we successfully defeated HB/SB 1944 in partnership with the TN Youth Coalition. This bill would have removed certain books from school libraries that are written from or about people of color, discuss race, or tell LGBTQIA+ stories.
EdTrust worked with the students at the legislature in Nashville to coordinate their efforts, while Stand worked on the ground in Memphis, where the main youth organizers were from, to support their organizing and advocacy strategy. We supported the youth in developing a digital action, holding a press conference, and visiting the legislature multiple times. These efforts culminated in their powerful testimony at a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting, which helped give the final blow to defeating HB/SB 1944.
Even though we defeated this bill, several other censorship bills still passed into law, threatening our students’ rights to an accurate, truthful, and complete education. We will continue to fight upcoming bills alongside our youth and our partners in EdTrust during the 2023 Legislative Session, and we look forward to more wins.