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New MAP Analysis: 80% of Youth Live in States that Considered Curriculum Censorship and Hostile School Climate Bills in 2020-2021

MEDIA CONTACT:   
Rebecca Farmer, Movement Advancement Project
rebecca@lgbtmap.org | 303-578-4600 ext 122

March 16, 2022—A new report from Movement Advancement Project (MAP) examines the wave of state legislation that censors discussions of race and LGBTQ people in schools, creates a hostile climate for students, and undermines public education. The report was released in partnership with the Equality Federation.

From 2020 to 2021 these kinds of bills nearly quadrupled in number and were considered in nearly every state.
 
As of March 2022, at least 280 hostile school climate and curriculum censorship bills have been introduced–more than in the previous two years combined.

Over 59 million young people live in the 42 states that considered these kinds of bills in the previous two years.
 
Curriculum Censorship Bills, Including So-Called “Don’t Say Gay” Bills and Bans on Critical Race Theory
School censorship bills ban or severely limit what schools can teach about race, racism, history, sexism, and LGBTQ people and issues, without regard for educational standards. These bills vary widely from state to state.

Some of these bills would give politicians veto power over school curricula that discuss the Holocaust or the contributions of Black Americans to U.S. history or allow parents to sue schools if LGBTQ issues are discussed.

Hostile School Climate Bills
A growing number of states have also considered or passed bills that undermine a safe, supportive school environment for all students, and especially for LGBTQ youth. Hostile school climate bills take many forms, including requiring teachers and school administrators to “out” an LGBTQ student to their parents, even if the teacher believes the student could be kicked out of their home, face physical or verbal abuse, or be subjected to harmful conversion “therapy.”

Other bills would ban transgender athletes from school sports, roll back nondiscrimination protections, and restrict use of a student’s chosen pronoun—all of which put transgender and nonbinary students at increased risk of harassment and exclusion.

Additional details in the report about the scope and harms of these bills include: 
— From 2020 to 2021, politicians in at least 30 states considered bills that would censor or restrict inclusive curricula, including about race, ethnicity, and LGBTQ people. Bills in at least 26 of those states were focused on banning classroom discussions of race and history, with ten states passing them into law. Bills in at least 14 of those states considered “Don’t Say Gay” and other related legislation that specifically seeks to censor discussions of sexual orientation, gender identity, and LGBTQ people in schools, ban LGBTQ-inclusive books or materials, and more.
  • — From 2020 to 2021, at least 40 states also considered hostile school climate bills. This includes bills banning transgender students from playing sports according to their gender identity—and the number of these bills more than tripled from 2020 to 2021, with many states continuing to introduce these bills in 2022.
  • — The bills create a wide range of penalties, including a school losing funding and allowing a parent to sue a school if they disagree with the curriculum.
  • — Even when these kinds of bills do not become law, the public debate about them causes harm. A 2021 survey from The Trevor Project showed that two-thirds (66%) of LGBTQ youth said their mental health was negatively impacted by recent state legislative debates about transgender people.

“The politicians and groups behind these bills want to use our laws to control what students can and cannot read, what they can and cannot learn, and—most troublingly—who they can and cannot be. Our schools should protect all students—including LGBTQ students and students of color—so they can learn and thrive in a safe environment,” said Ineke Mushovic, Executive Director of MAP.  “America is a country of freedom of speech and freedom of ideas. Those freedoms end when politicians start banning books and censoring curriculum simply because some people find them uncomfortable. All our kids deserve an education that is honest, accurate, and gives them the tools to learn from our past so they can help create better future.”

To schedule an interview with a MAP researcher about this report or other issues regarding LGBTQ equality please contact Rebecca Farmer at rebecca@lgbtmap.org.

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MAP's mission is to provide independent and rigorous research, insight and communications that help speed equality and opportunity for all. MAP works to ensure that all people have a fair chance to pursue health and happiness, earn a living, take care of the ones they love, be safe in their communities, and participate in civic life.

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