We know that the politicization of concepts like critical race theory is the result of a relentless campaign led by opponents of inclusive education. Through an intentional effort to build a narrative through the media, political discourse, and online, an attempt is being made to scare parents, educators, and the public into believing that students should not have the opportunity to wrestle freely with our nation’s history. It is essential that when we talk about critical race theory, inclusive education, and culturally responsive education, we do so in a way that clearly lays out what’s at stake — and what the other side is actually seeking to accomplish.

Below are sample talking points developed by the ACLU and partners that aim to highlight the danger of efforts to ban books and censor robust classroom discussion. Feel free to use these talking points as you approach suggested actions throughout the toolkit, including writing letters to the editor, sign-on letters, and when attending school board meetings to advocate for the right to learn.

Sample talking points

  • All students have a right to read and learn free from censorship.
  • All students have a First Amendment right to read and learn about the history and viewpoints of all communities — including their own identity — inside and outside of the classroom.
  • Book bans and classroom censorship efforts work to effectively erase the history and lived experiences of women, people of color, and LGBTQ people and censor discussions around race, gender, and sexuality that impact people’s daily lives.
  • The First Amendment protects the right to share ideas, including educators’ and students’ right to receive and exchange information and knowledge.
  • Freedom of expression protects our right to read, learn, and share ideas free from viewpoint-based censorship.
  • Book bans in school and public libraries — places that are central to our abilities to explore ideas, encounter new perspectives, and learn to think for ourselves — are misguided attempts to try to suppress that right.
  • All young people deserve to be able to see themselves and the issues that impact them reflected in their classrooms and in the books they’re reading.
  • All students benefit from having access to inclusive teaching where students can freely learn and talk about the history, viewpoints, and ideas of all communities in this country.
  • Every student should have the right to receive an equitable education and have an open and honest dialogue about America’s history.