Hate Speech & Protests

There were almost 900 reports of harassment and intimidation in the U.S. in the 10 days following the election – most of them in schools, according to a Southern Poverty Law Center article.

The article states that the venue isn’t surprising, given how “prevalent bullying is in our nation’s schools and the characteristics of young people.” It also offers the perspective from a Washington state teacher who witnessed harassment first-hand.

“Build a wall” was chanted in our cafeteria Wed [after the election] at lunch. “If you aren’t born here, pack your bags” was shouted in my own classroom. “Get out spic” was said in our halls.”

This week, the American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom’s (OIF) Intellectual Freedom News (subscribe) added a new category to our links about censorship, privacy, internet filtering, and net neutrality:

Hate Speech & LibrariesDefaced library book in Evanston IL

It is with anger and sadness that we’ve started tracking these stories.

Librarians have been calling American Library Association (ALA) with questions and anger about how to deal with defacement of library materials and harassment of patrons and students — words written in books and carved on bathroom stalls. Students being spit on. “White Power” yelled in the hall. Violence erupting in response to the 2016 presidential election or the Dakota Access Pipeline.

ALA’s Office for Diversity, Literacy & Outreach Services created Libraries Respond as a space for to discuss these events and share our commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion. And while we often respond with books to promote kindness and peace, we also need tools to respond when hate smacks us in the face.

How do librarians respond when confronted with hate speech?

In the midst of all this hate, some students and even staff are rising up and demanding that their voices of inclusion and equality also be heard. Many are using activism to express their discontent.

There have been stories of students protesting the elimination of their school librarian. Stories of students who fight back against censorship or racist textbooks. Stories of students kneeling during the national anthem to protest unfair treatment of minorities in America. Students have been protesting since before the Vietnam War and they will continue to protest.

Student Rights, Protests, & Free SpeechHow do librarians and educators support student rights and activism?

OIF invites you to attend a webinar with Emilio De Torre from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Dec. 15. During “Student Rights, Protests and Free Speech,” De Torre will answer these questions and more.

What are the rights of students on campus?
How can students legally protest and voice their dissent?
How do students react to authority, and how should you respond?
Can librarians and teachers get in trouble for supporting student free speech?
How can allies support and encourage student activism?
What tools help students deal with hate speech?
Are activism and safety in schools mutually exclusive?

Be proactive in your protection of free speech and student voices. Hear from a nationally recognized consultant on what is legally protected for minors and how not to piss off your administration.

Register on the ALA webinar page.

Categories: Intellectual Freedom

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