|Plenty! Here are some ways to join the fight for free speech!|
You have to know something about censorship before you can fight it. There are many good books available on the subject. Some are non-fiction, including histories of censorship, and some are fictionstories about how censorship affects the lives of individual people. Some have been written specifically for kids. The place to start is your local library. Ask the librarian to help you find books about censorship. Also, go to the library catalog and look up censorship in the subject index. You can also ask a bookseller for help. Many general booksellers carry books about censorship, and children's bookstores often carry the titles intended for kids. (To find an independent bookseller in the United States, use the search engine on the home page of the American Booksellers Association)
A lot of information about censorship is available on the Internet. A good place to start is the websites of the two major anti-censorship groups, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the National Coalition Against Censorship. Another good resource is the Free Expression Network, which is supported by groups that fight for free statement, and free!, www.freedomforum.org, which is the Web site of the Freedom Forum Online. You may also want to search the Web sites of the sponsors of kidSPEAK.
Use your First Amendment right to protest censorship when it occurs. If
the school board is considering restrictions on what students can read, you can ask for
permission to speak at one of the board's public meetings. You can also write letters to
the school board president and the president of the board. Try to get something published
in your school newspaper and the local newspaper by writing a Letter to the Editor. Local
newspapers welcome these letters and usually list the Letters Editor's address on their
editorial page. These letters do not need to be long. In fact, shorter letters have a
better chance of being published. All you have to do is express your opinion to the best
of your ability. The important thing is that you make your voice heard.
One voice can be powerful, but you have a better chance of successfully protesting censorship if you get other people to help you. You can organize a club. This makes your protest more noticeable and allows you to share the work of writing letters and organizing other protest activities. You can also circulate a petition. A petition contains a paragraph explaining your position followed by numbered lines where people who agree with you sign their names. The petition shows that you are not alone in your views and may convince the person receiving it that those who oppose censorship outnumber those who support it. You can also circulate a petition by e-mail and ask the people who receive it to forward it to people they know who may agree with you.
4. Get help!
Almost anybody who wants to protest censorship will need help at some point from national groups that defend First Amendment rights. These are not for profit groups, which means they do not have much money. However, they often know people in your community--librarians, booksellers, teachers and others--who are interested in protecting free speech and may be able to help you. The first person to contact is the kidSPEAK Webmaster, Caitlin Delohery, (212) 587-4025 or email@example.com. Caitlin is in contact with the nine national groups that sponsor Kidspeak and can pass along your request to them.
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