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Tools for Fighting Educational Gag Orders

By Stephanie A. Lamore

Educational gag orders—bills targeting teaching about race and racism, including critical race theory (CRT)—are already on the 2022 legislative agenda in a handful of states. Such “anti-CRT” bills aim to eliminate classroom discussions about racism, dictate college and university curricula, and intimidate faculty members who teach about race. The AAUP has developed several online tools, available at https://www.aaup.org/issues/legislative-interference-teaching-about-race, to help members keep track of and respond to these attacks on academic freedom.

The AAUP’s legislative tracking dashboard includes maps that show where educational gag orders have been introduced and which states are considering bills that target higher education. The dashboard also provides a list of all active bills and a list of upcoming committee hearings, making it easy to follow activity in your state and across the country.

The AAUP’s staff has developed talking points on educational gag orders to guide conversations with lawmakers and faculty colleagues. These talking points can help keep conversations focused on facts rather than misinformation. Members can also adapt a draft op-ed available on the AAUP’s website. Op-eds and letters to the editor are an effective part of a broader strategy for influencing elected officials.

Finally, the AAUP has developed a draft legislative resolution affirming academic freedom and the importance of teaching about and discussing race and racism. Our online resources also include a link to the African American Policy Forum’s draft academic senate resolution, which faculty members can use to get their institutions on the record in support of academic freedom.

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