FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 22, 2022
AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas Freedom Network today launched its Teach the Truth campaign, a multi-tier grassroots campaign to tackle the politicization of schools and children’s education, especially as it relates to race and LGBTQ representation.
The Teach the Truth campaign consists of a coalition of 13 state and national organizations that will combine their resources to organize communities at the local and state school board level.
“We’re mobilizing against censorship and book bans because every child deserves an accurate, honest, and quality education no matter the color of their skin or where they call home,” said Val Benavidez, executive director of the Texas Freedom Network. “Yet, time and time again, politicians and the far right use our children as pawns for their agendas – attempting to scare parents and turn them against dedicated educators and public schools.”
The Teach the Truth campaign includes online organizing and digital campaigning strategies to build a well-informed and mobilized community of Texans. To join the campaign, education advocates can visit the website – www.tfn.org/truth – and sign up to receive resources and a future organizing toolkit they can use to take action at their local school board meetings. The site also allows for reporting incidents of school censorship and the ability to take larger state actions focused on applying pressure to discourage politicians from politicizing schools for their own political gain.
“This is why we at IDRA are really proud to be part of the Teach the Truth coalition because we are going to continue organizing to fight back efforts to censor teachers, to whitewash our history, and ban our books, said Michelle Castillo, deputy director of advocacy of the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA). “We are re-doubling our commitment to advance a vision for public education that values the humanity of every single child. Our children are the architects of hope for a more just world. They are our mighty hope for a brighter future and they deserve a public education that sees that in all of them.”
In the past year, Texans witnessed a growing assault on public education and on teaching an accurate historical truth in our classrooms. During the 87th Texas legislative session, lawmakers pushed forward a narrative around a theory of education used in only a few higher collegiate courses to limit how race, slavery, and history are taught in Texas schools. The hyper fixation on school censorship by politicians continues as we see moves to ban books from school libraries. The books in question are mostly about race or LGBTQ people. In more recent news, a librarian in Llano, Texas, was fired for not removing books from the public library.
“Libraries are really the best of our democracy because they represent all of us,” said Carolyn Foote, an educator and librarian of more than 20 years. “They contain ideas about who we are as a people, where we come from, where we are going, and librarians work hard to represent all of our communities on the shelves. Students’ stories about their lives belong on the shelves of our library because students belong in our libraries. When books are removed that help them have empathy or understanding for others or expose them to ideas that are beyond their world and their boundaries in their community, then we are doing them a disservice in terms of preparing them for the workplace and for college in the future.”
“These kids just survived a marathon state legislative attack on the LGBTQ Community of historic proportions,” said Ricardo Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas. “Whether it’s at school, elections, or everyday life, we are seeing and feeling the weight of these attacks in so many ways. For youth, as battles for culture wars cement themselves in school board meetings across Texas, youth in Texas see their very humanity debated time and time again by those who are charged with their safety and education.”
TFN and the Teach the Truth partners believe the censorship in education by elected officials will be a disservice to children and their future.
“It is extremely important that my generation gets to have the right to hear the truth about history and learn about and experience the beautiful diversity in our world,” said Avital, a Texas middle school student. “Our schools currently hold the next generation of world leaders, doctors, teachers, and so much more, and if our education is censored and limited, then by the time we are exposed to new things we meet with them with bias and hate.”
The Teach the Truth Campaign will plan events around State Board of Education meetings, as well as local school board meetings, to move for protections against political interference in education.
Teach the Truth is a TFN campaign supported by a coalition of the following organizations: Asian Texans for Justice, Children’s Defense Fund Texas, Equality Texas, Human Rights Campaign, IDRA, JOLT, Pastors for Texas Children, Progress Texas, Texans for the Right to Read, Texas AFT, TSTA/NEA, and Transgender Education Network of Texas.
The Texas Freedom Network (tfn.org) is a grassroots organization of religious and community leaders and young Texans building an informed and effective movement for equality and social justice.