Current Events: Book Bans

In an era in which legislative bodies across the U.S. have been passing legislation banning particular content from school libraries and classrooms the Oregon legislature considered a different approach. In late February 2024 the Oregon Senate passed Senate Bill 1583. The Oregon Legislative Information System, summarized Senate Bill 1583 as such: the bill «[p]rohibits discrimination when selecting textbooks, instructional materials, program materials or library books that are used in the public schools of this state.”

The bill has received significant attention during this year’s short session, with over 1,400 people providing public comment on the proposal. Despite backing from a number of organizations, including the ACLU of Oregon, the Oregon House of Representatives ended their session early, before they voted on Senate Bill 1583. Senate Republican leader Tim Knopp said moving the bill forward was a step in the wrong direction.

According to the Oregon Intellectual Freedom Clearinghouse (OIFC), an organization that tracks book bans, in 2023 93 book titles were challenged to be banned in a school or library, a historic high. OIFC’s 2023 report noted 46 book bans in Oregon, slightly down for a historic high in 2022.

This week’s Current Events resources examine the constitutional issues in Oregon and around the country as Americans try to balance freedom of expression with the moderation of what books and content are allowed in schools and libraries. The resources shared provide information and context centered on case law, and the legal and philosophical arguments around the banning of books.


Essential Questions:

  • How do societies balance freedom and order?
  • To what extent should students be free to choose what they read?
  • Who should be making the decisions around what books are available in schools and libraries? (e.g., parents, educators, administrators, elected officials)
  • When is censorship appropriate in a democratic society?
  • Should curricular decisions be made at the local, state, or national level? 
  • In your opinion, what are the dangers of allowing books to be banned at schools and libraries?
  • In your opinion, what are the dangers of allowing any and all books in schools and libraries? 





Oregon bill aims to ban school book bans, Think Out Loud, February 14, 2023

Banned Books | A History of Putting Books on Blast , The Story Behind, 2018

The Challenge, Borrowed and Banned, Brooklyn Public Library

Background Resources:

First Amendment, Interactive Constitution, National Constitution Center

Constitution of Oregon, 2023 Edition

What You Need to Know About the Book Bans Sweeping the U.S., Teachers College of Columbia University

2023 Preliminary Data Shows Record Surge of Challenges in Public Libraries, American Library Association

Board of Education, Island Trees Union Free School District No. 26 v. Pico by Pico, Oyez

State v. Henry, Justia

Recent Articles:

Oregon lawmaker’s ‘simple’ attempt to push back against book bans becomes culture war flash point, Oregon Capitol Chronicle, February 13, 2024

Oregon Senate approves bill to ban book bans, OPB, February 27, 2024

Bill to ban discriminatory book bans in Oregon moves forward, KATU Fox 31, February 18, 2024

Book Bans and the Librarians Who Won’t Be Hushed, Harvard Graduate School of Education, November 6, 2023

Banned books panel timely for Eastern Oregon school, The East Oregonian, October 6, 2023

Poll: Americans say teachers are underpaid, about half of Republicans oppose book bans, NPR, June 2, 2023

He took his school to the Supreme Court in the 1980s for pulling ‘objectionable’ books. Here’s his message to young people, CNN, June 25, 2022

Recent Editorials:

Adults have a lot to say about book bans — but what about kids? NPR, October 4, 2023

Readers respond: Stop censorship with SB 1583, The Oregonian, February. 23, 2024

Editorial Cartoon: Book ban fair, The Astorian, June 10, 2023

Lesson Plans:

Free Speech Lesson Plan, The National Constitution Center

Banned Books – Top 3 Pros and Cons, Britannica

Lesson Plan: Choice Board: Academic Censorship, C-SPAN Classroom

Resources for Younger Students:

Censorship facts for kids, Kpedia


Published in March, 2024