Book Bans: How Parents Can Take Action

In recent years, a growing number of book bans have arisen around the country targeting material about race, gender, and sexuality. For the concerned parents, teachers, and students affected by these policies, there are ways to take action.

Updated January 2024

What are book bans?

Book bans are laws or policies brought by legislatures, school boards, or others with power over a student’s learning that mandate the removal of books from classrooms and libraries. Bans can include books that kids may bring from home to school. Sometimes, these policies aren’t complete bans, instead requiring parental permission or establishing an age restriction on certain titles.


unique titles were threatened or banned in 2023.


more book bans were attempted between 2021 and 2022 according to the American Library Association.


of school library book ban attempts were successful in the 2022-23 school year.

What kinds of books are being censored?

According to PEN America, in 2022-23:

  • 38% of books that were banned covered topics on health and wellbeing for students
  • 20% of books that were banned included characters of color or discussions of race and racism
  • 26% of books that were banned included LGBTQ+ characters or themes

PEN America’s report “Banned in the USA: State Laws Supercharge Book Suppression in Schools” has more in depth data, including state-by-state data on book banning attempts

What’s driving the attempts to ban books about race, sexuality, and gender?

Book banning is broadly unpopular in the United States. In fact, 7 in 10 voters are strongly opposed to banning books from public libraries. The reality is that book ban attempts are driven by a small minority of people affiliated with well-funded national political organizations, like Moms for Liberty. Research shows that most book banning attempts in the 2021-22 school year were filed by the same 11 people, and many requests to ban books are filed by people who do not even have a child enrolled in a public school in the district.

What can you do about book bans in your school district?

Report censorship

One of the simplest ways to help is to report book-banning attempts to the American Library Association. Reports from parents, teachers, and students provide us with the data necessary to understand where these banning attempts are coming from and where we need to be fighting back.

Connect with local groups

Fighting back as a community is less daunting than going it alone. Your local LGBTQ+ community center or PFLAG chapter may be a great place to start.

Speak out

Parent and student testimony at school boards, state legislatures, and even in one-on-one conversations with educators are the most powerful ways of showing that most parents are against book bans. The following resources might be helpful:

Assert your legal rights

Sometimes book bans can violate your child’s legal rights by creating a hostile learning environment for them. Family Equality’s Title IX guide can help you with the process of filing a discrimination complaint.

Protecting LGBTQ Students: 5 Tips for Effective Advocacy in Your School District

Looking for support on your family’s school journey?

Family Equality hosts a virtual peer resource group every month for LGBTQ+ parents navigating school-related challenges! Register today to receive log-in information.

Nikhil Vashee

Nikhil Vashee (They/Them)

Director of Education Law and Policy, Senior Policy Counsel

Nikhil Vashee (they/them) is currently the Director of Education Law and Policy, Senior Policy Counsel for Family Equality. In this role, they promote policy solutions at the local, state, and federal levels to ensure LGBTQ+ families’ access to quality education in a supportive environment. They also oversee litigation, amicus curiae briefs, and other legal efforts to combat discrimination against LGBTQ+ families in education.

This information was prepared and distributed by Family Equality. |

Family Equality exists to create a world where everyone can experience the unconditional love, safety, and belonging of family. Our mission is to ensure that everyone has the freedom to find, form, and sustain their families by advancing equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) community.