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Authors Guild Collaborates with New Federal Deputy on Battling Book Bans

Seal of the US Department of Education laid over an American flag

The Authors Guild is heartened by the Biden administration’s creation of a position dedicated to protecting the civil rights of K-12 students against school book bans. We welcome Matt Nosanchuk to the position of Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office for Civil Rights for the Department of Education.

In appointing Mr. Nosanchuk, the Biden administration has demonstrated its commitment to addressing the growing epidemic of school and library book bans, many of which are targeted against books about or by BIPOC or LGBTQIA+ people. As the Department of Education stated: “Across the country, communities are seeing a rise in efforts to ban books—efforts that are often designed to empty libraries and classrooms of literature about LGBTQ people, people of color, people of faith, key historical events, and more.” The Department went on to say that, “These efforts are a threat to students’ rights and freedoms.”

During a conversation with the Guild’s CEO and general counsel, Nosanchuk explained his role in addressing book bans, which involves amplifying and explaining the legal obligations schools and federally-funded entities have in complying with federal civil rights laws regarding race, gender, and other forms of discrimination, investigating violations of those rights related to books removals, and helping bring schools into compliance.

When book bans target specific authors, characters, or subjects related to marginalized communities (such as members of the LGBTQIA+ or BIPOC communities), the differential treatment of these books can make students feel excluded, potentially creating a discriminatory or hostile environment that violates federal anti-discrimination laws. Mr. Nosanchuk would like to involve authors in these conversations, and the Guild looks forward to working with him in his efforts, including by hosting an upcoming webinar with him. Details for this webinar will be available soon.

For more info on how to take action, see the Authors Guild’s Stop Book Bans Toolkit and join Unite Against Book Bans.