In December, police showed up at a Great Barrington middle school to search a classroom and question a teacher over an award-winning coming-of-age memoir about a nonbinary author.

GLAD and ACLU of Massachusetts took swift action, condemning this unwarranted and unauthorized intrusion into the classroom. In a letter to local law enforcement officials, we made our message clear: Law enforcement should not be policing educational material. The letter also underscored the importance of protecting the constitutional right to learn free of censorship.

The incident in Great Barrington is shocking, but the abuse of power arose from the current political climate.

Over the past few years, we have seen escalating censorship efforts, attacks on LGBTQ+ people and families in public schools, and attempts to shut down young people’s freedom to learn across the country.

We are working in the courts and communities to defend positive school policies and with partners in states including Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and beyond to combat book-banning efforts.  

Our ongoing lawsuit, with ACLU-NH, Mejia v. Edelblut, challenges a dangerous New Hampshire law that not only bans the discussion of honest history but also actively discourages public school teachers from addressing topics such as race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and gender identity. 

Efforts to censor learning and dismantle policies supporting students not only violate U.S. and state constitutional rights but also create harmful and hostile learning environments. This undermines a fundamental purpose of our public schools—to provide a safe and inclusive space for education.

It’s on all of us to defend academic freedom and protect the rights of both students and educators.

We must protect access to inclusive education – where students can see themselves and their families represented and can learn about different perspectives and experiences.

You can make a difference today by staying up-to-date on the latest challenges and ways to take action, and by contributing to GLAD’s work. With your support, we can ensure that LGBTQ+ youth, and our entire community, can live and learn freely. 

Get updates on GLAD’s work to defend the freedom to learn: