Credit: Da'Taeveyon Daniels

We must defend intellectual freedom in Texas

As a student advocate on the front lines in Texas, I am appalled by the introduction of HB 900, a dangerous bill that threatens our fundamental right to intellectual freedom. This bill, proposed by lawmakers, is a clear attempt to impose narrow-minded views and restrict access to information in our libraries and schools. It is crucial for all of us to come together and fight against this regressive legislation that undermines our education and stifles our intellectual growth.

HB 900 seeks to ban books and materials in public school libraries that are deemed “inappropriate” by the subjective standards of a small group of individuals. This vague and arbitrary criterion gives undue power to censorship and allows for the suppression of diverse ideas and perspectives. It empowers those who seek to erase history, silence marginalized voices, and impose their own ideologies on our educational institutions.

There are several sections of this bill that are worrisome, as they appear to restrict the access to a wide range of materials, including books, videos, and audio files, that could be deemed “sexually explicit” or “sexually relevant”. The broad definitions of these terms, as outlined in the bill, raise concerns about what content would be allowed in school libraries and how it would be determined. Additionally, the requirement for library material vendors to issue appropriate ratings and the potential recall of certain materials could lead to self-censorship and limit the availability of important and educational resources.

It is also crucial to address the potential implications of the vague language used in the bill, which could open the door to censorship targeting LGBTQ+, BIPOC, and other marginalized communities. The lack of clear guidelines or safeguards against biased interpretations may inadvertently result in the exclusion or erasure of valuable resources that provide representation and promote understanding and acceptance.

This bill also poses a threat to our educators and librarians, who play a vital role in fostering critical thinking, curiosity, and a love for learning. It undermines their professional expertise and autonomy, and hampers their ability to provide a well-rounded and inclusive education to students. It sets a dangerous precedent of politicizing our educational spaces and infringing upon our First Amendment rights.

As students, we cannot stand idly by while our right to access information and explore diverse ideas is under attack. We must rise up and take action to protect our intellectual freedom. We can start by calling and writing to our representatives, urging them to oppose HB 900 and protect our rights to access information without censorship. We can also write letters, and use social media to raise awareness about the dangers of this bill and mobilize our peers to join the fight.

Additionally, we can fight by joining organizations who are already involved in battling injustices similar to HB 900; youth oriented organizations such as MOVE Texas, Children’s Defense Fund Texas, Students Engaged in Advancing Texas, and so many more. You could also drop a card, testify at committee hearings, share our personal stories, and highlight the negative impact of this bill on our education. Our voices are powerful, and our testimonies can have a significant impact in swaying decision-makers to reject this harmful legislation. We must make our voices heard and demand that our representatives prioritize our education, diversity, and inclusivity over ideological agendas.

The fight against HB 900 will not be easy, and the proponents of this bill may try to dismiss our concerns or silence our voices. But we cannot be deterred. We must remain consistent and resolute in our efforts to protect our rights and values. One way to stay informed and engaged is by tracking the progress of the bill. You can do this by regularly checking the state legislature’s website, signing up for email updates from advocacy organizations, or following relevant social media accounts. By staying informed and involved, we can continue to advocate for intellectual freedom, inclusivity, and diversity in our libraries and schools. Let’s stand united in defense of these important values.

HB 900 is a dangerous bill that poses a direct threat to our fundamental right to intellectual freedom. As students and advocates, we must come together, raise our voices, and fight against this regressive legislation. We cannot let censorship and narrow-mindedness dictate what we can learn and explore in our libraries and schools. With our unwavering determination and collective action, we can defeat this harmful bill and ensure that our educational spaces remain safe havens for critical thinking, curiosity, and inclusivity. The time to act is now, and with our consistent efforts, we will persevere and overcome the radical GOP’s agenda. Let us be inspired by the resilience of those who have fought for intellectual freedom before us, and let us be relentless in our pursuit of a better, more inclusive, and diverse education for ourselves and future generations. Join the fight, and let us make our voices heard!

Share via
Copy link