Opposition to Educational Gag Orders Grows

By Stephanie A. Lamore

Public opposition to educational gag orders has increased significantly in recent months. In some instances, this fierce resistance has stymied state legislation.

In Indiana, a hearing on House Bill 1134 drew more than two hundred people, who showed up to voice their opposition to legislative efforts to ban the teaching of “divisive concepts.” The house committee chamber was so packed that several people were unable to get inside. Legislators could not reach agreement on the best way forward, and both the senate and house versions of the bill are now effectively dead.

University of South Carolina faculty showed up in force to a state committee hearing where educational gag orders were the only bills on the agenda. Several faculty members gave testimony, speaking strongly against these censorship bills, and representatives from the AAUP’s coalition partners at the American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund gave testimony as well. Following the testimony, committee members opposed to the bills outnumbered those in favor by a ratio of more than four to one.

In Missouri, a coalition focused on opposing educational gag orders is continuing to apply pressure on lawmakers, an effort that culminated in a lobby day on March 3. Politicians in the Missouri legislature have introduced a staggering sixteen educational gag orders this session, several of which target higher education.

In Wisconsin—one of four states in which educational gag order legislation has passed out of both chambers—the governor vetoed the bill that reached his desk.

In these states and in states such as Alabama, Georgia, Maryland, and West Virginia, the groundswell of opposition to educational gag orders is growing. Visit https://www.aaup.org/EGOs for links to resources and a dashboard that lists all of the active bills we are tracking.