Book Bans 101: How Do We Stop Book Bans?

Run for Something
3 min readOct 4, 2023
“Stop Book Bans” banner ft. a burning book, a hand with a lit match, and a protest sign that says, “Educational Censorship is Fascism”

The “What”
With over 20,000 School Board races on the ballot in 2024, Run for Something is ready to take on the extremists attacking our libraries, our public schools, and our children’s education. To start, Run for Something is recruiting and supporting candidates for school board in as many places and in as many races as possible. The GOP has invested immense resources to win school and library board elections. Outside “grassroots” organizations like Moms for Liberty and the 1776 PAC have partnered with establishment conservative organizations like the Leadership Institute to recruit, train, and support candidates for school boards, all funded by GOP mega-donors. It’s time to learn the facts and take action.

The Problem
A vocal minority of hyper-partisan people are radically shifting education in our country, making school boards a testing ground for extreme policies and governance. And when we say vocal minority, we mean it — the Washington Post reported just 11 people were responsible for 60% of the book bans in schools last year. They won’t stop at book bans, though. Far-right extremists are wreaking havoc on issues like accurate history, fact-based science, and even things like school nurses and counselors. All the while, students are exposed to the risk of gun violence and teachers are being pushed to their breaking points.

These extremists are running for office all over the country. And once they win, they’re using the power of these offices to ban books, fire teachers and administrators, end diversity and equity programs, make schools dangerous for LGBTQ+ kids, and reject curriculums that reckon with America’s history.

Screenshot from theybannedwhat.net of illustrated book spines with “STOP BOOK BANS” sitting on top of books

Our Resource
In 2022, The American Library Association reported the highest volume of book bans in over 20 years — 2,500+ book bans in schools across 32 states — and extremists are on track to try to ban even more. The books being banned are overwhelmingly written by women, people of color, LGBTQIA+ folks, and other historically marginalized groups.

Did you know that New York Times bestselling young adult (YA) novel The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas was challenged and/or banned in Missouri and Pennsylvania for “promoting an anti-police message”? What about when six different states challenged and/or banned Toni Morrison’s classic novel Song of Solomon, citing it as “trash.”

If you want to learn more about what kinds of books are being banned and where — www.theybannedwhat.net is an interactive one-stop shop to get you started.

The Solution
Winning campaigns and governing at the school board level is more accessible than most people realize.

60% of school board races go uncontested, 87% of them cost less than $10,000, and most school board members report working about 10 hours per week.

We started the 50 State School Board Strategy to fight back and recruit and train young, diverse progressive candidates for school board. There are more than 80,000 elected school board positions across the country, with elections for approximately 20–25% of them happening each year. That’s why we’re building toward a 50-state strategy that will position us to fight back against Moms for Liberty and other far-right groups.

Want to be a part of the 50 State School Board Strategy? Chip in to help us recruit and support school board candidates who will help our children thrive.

Since 2017, Run for Something has endorsed over 2,500 candidates across all 50 states and D.C., and elected more than 800 people while winning more than 1,000 elections — 50% of our folks identify as women or non-binary leaders, more than 50% identify as people of color, and 20% identify as LGBTQIA+ folks. Hundreds of those have been for elected positions in charge of public education and libraries. This is only the beginning — we’re not slowing down.

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Run for Something

Recruiting & supporting young people running for office. Building a Democratic bench. Want to help? hello@runforsomething.net