Students share growing concerns over classroom censorship to Congress

WASHINGTON, D.C. — More than a dozen states have new laws prohibiting schools from teaching certain topics in the classroom including lessons related to racism, bias, and LGBTQ+ topics.

This week, Congress reviewed these policies and heard some passionate statements from several high school students about this issue.

Krisha Ramani, a high school student from Michigan, told lawmakers she’s seen first-hand how some of these new policies are affecting her education.

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“Gen Z has the capacity and more importantly the willingness to learn about the issues affecting us,” said Ramani. “We want to participate in these tough conversations. We want to read about the diverse perspectives affecting us and efforts to regulate what can be taught in the classroom is an insult to a young person’s ability to understand nuanced arguments.”

These students are urging Congress to preserve their freedom of speech and protect their teachers.

Some of these new state laws will punish teachers who violate them.

“Something has gone very wrong when teachers think they will be fired for supporting the concept of diversity,” said Claire Mengel, a high school student from Ohio. “Most critically students of color are being told by the highest authority in the district that their stories don’t deserve to take up school time, school grounds or school resources.”

Many Democrats believe these laws are undermining public education by banning literature, historical concepts, and other classroom materials.

But some Republicans say these policies are set up to increase parental rights and transparency.

“Our children’s innocence should be protected and prioritized and along with their potential for their personal and academic success,” said Rep. Nancy Mace, (R – South Carolina).

Rep. Mace believes schools should focus on supporting students especially those who are suffering from COVID-19 learning loss.

“Our children should not be taught that they are oppressors or that they are victims merely based on the color of their skin. Instead, we should re-double down on our efforts to ensure that our children have the foundation to achieve their best and full potential,” said Rep. Mace.

Some educators say these new laws are also contributing to the teacher shortage because it’s harder to recruit staff.