Educational Gag Orders: Legislative Restrictions on the Freedom to Read, Learn, and Teach
This policy analysis from PEN America examines recent state legislation that prohibits the teaching of specific ideas, concepts, or curricular materials in public schools, higher education, and/or state agencies and institutions. The brief provides an overview of 54 such legislative bills introduced or passed between January and September 2021. This analysis concludes that these laws are anti-intellectual and that will disproportionately affect teachers of color. The analysis proposes that the laws enacted to restrict the curriculum about racism, anti-Blackness, gender discrimination, and homophobia are related to recent laws enacted to restrict voting and protesting. The analysis also finds that bill proponents use “critical race theory” as a catchall term that encompasses a range of ideas, practices, and materials related to advancing diversity, equity, or inclusion. The report examines the implications of such laws on education for students, teachers, and teacher educators.