Banned Books and Words: Impact on Inclusion - Statement from Division for Early Childhood
Banned Books and Words: Impact on Inclusion for Young Children with Disabilities (0-8), their Families, and the Professionals who Serve the Early Childhood, Early Intervention, and Early Childhood Special Education Field - Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children (DEC) Statement
To date, 44 states have introduced bills or taken steps to restrict or limit how diversity, equity, and social justice are discussed in programs and schools (Schwartz, 2023). While some of the steps have been overturned or stalled, 18 states have imposed these bans and restrictions. Similarly, while states may not have bans, communities across the nation are facing increased scrutiny and opposition to books affirming diversity, inclusion and social justice, and to teaching about these concepts. These restrictions on words, books, and how professionals support children and families have significant negative impacts on children, families, and professionals, especially children and families from historically marginalized backgrounds. For children and families, censorship can; (a) limit their exposure to diverse perspectives and ideas, hindering their intellectual and emotional development; (b) impact sense of belonging or seeing themselves as equal members of the community; (c) prevent them from gaining a comprehensive understanding of social issues and historical events, limiting their ability to think critically about the world around them; and (d) restrict families from making informed decisions and advocating for themselves and their children. For professionals, censorship can restrict their ability to effectively support children and families and can limit their ability to use books and resources that have been proven effective in their fields and affirm the children they serve.
As an organization, we are gravely concerned with the emerging policies such as those that seek to ban books and language. These attempts will only increase inequity and further marginalize children, families, and providers likely to experience injustice. Within the field of early childhood, early intervention, and early childhood special education, there are longstanding practices, perceptions, and policies that have allowed discrimination and marginalization to persist in many areas including but not limited to socio-economic factors, poverty, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, and disability. At the intersection of ableism and racism, data and research provide evidence to a fraction of the harm experienced by young children and their families (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center [ECTA], 2023). Inequity in receiving services, disproportionate suspension and expulsion, and harmful behavioral interventions have been documented and cause lifelong harm to self and family identity.
If there was ever a time to support children with disabilities, their families, and professionals within the field of early intervention and early childhood special education, the time is NOW! DEC values and respects the diversity, in all its facets, of its members, children, and families. We understand and empathize with the complexities you are facing as parents, caregivers, and professionals, and we want you to know that we are here to support you. DEC is committed to using our platform to advocate with and for you, whether it is through webinars, materials, advocacy efforts, or social media. DEC is committed to being a courageous place for community, connection, and collaboration. We (DEC) stand with you in solidarity now and always!
DEC Executive Board
Division for Early Childhood Resources
Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center. (2023). Fact sheet: Advancing early childhood equity in early intervention and preschool special education
Schwartz., S. (2023, March 23). Map: Where Critical Race Theory is under attack.