Lesson Plan: Choice Board: Academic Censorship

Purpose of Free Speech

Yale University professor Dr. Timothy Snyder talks about the significance of free speech in history and in a democracy.


Who should be responsible for determining the content and materials that are included in school curricula? The House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties held hearings to discuss this issue. In this lesson, students will hear testimony from elected officials, people in the education community as well as a trailblazer in the Civil Rights Movement as they offer their perspectives on issues that should be addressed in educational settings as well as student access to materials such as books. The extension activity provides additional viewpoints from parents and students who testified during the hearing as well. Students will engage in activities to deliberate responses to this question.


  • SET-UP:

    This lesson offers several options for you to use with your students whether you are teaching in class, using a hybrid model, or engaging through distance learning. It can be completed in steps as a class or students can move at their own pace and complete the activities independently.

    You can post links to the videos in the lesson along with the related handouts and engage in discussion to share responses on a discussion board or learning management system.

    You can also save and share the following Google resources for students to use with this lesson.

    Vocabulary Chart: Academic Censorship (Google Doc)

    Note-Taking Chart: Academic Censorship (Google Doc)

    Choice Board with Activities: Academic Censorship (Google Slides)

    In Google, choose "File" then "Make a Copy" to get your own copy. You can make any needed adjustments in the instructions such as which activities students need to complete, when it is due, etc. and then make it available to them via Google.

  • WARM-UP:

    For an entrance slip, have students write their reflections on the following question:

    Who should be responsible for determining the content and materials that are included in school curricula?

    You might want to offer suggestions such as the federal government, state government, local school districts, parents, students, tax payers, etc.

    Students can share their viewpoints in a brief class discussion if they feel comfortable. Alternatively, this can be a short turn-and-talk to your neighbor exercise as well.


    View the following video clip as a class. Have students share their responses using the guiding questions to provide a foundation for this topic.

    Video Clip 1: Purpose of Free Speech (1:20) Yale University professor Dr. Timothy Snyder talks about the significance of free speech in history and in a democracy.

    • According to Dr. Timothy Snyder, what is the history of free speech?

    • Why does democracy require free speech?

    The following collection of videos offer different perspectives on the topic of academic censorship, including the banning of books. Students can choose one or more groups of videos to view and take notes on the accompanying handout:

    Academic Censorship (Google Doc)

    Students can watch each video independently, or view them with a partner, and be prepared to share what they learned from each person's perspective.

  • GROUP 1:

    Video Clip 2: Academic Censorship: Grades K-12 (2:13)

    Jonathan Pidluzny, Vice President Academic Affairs, American Council of Trustees and Alumni, discussed the issue of academic censorship in K-12 curriculum and the banning of books.

    Video Clip 3: Librarian Perspective on Book Bans (5:08)

    Ephrata Area School District Librarian and Electives Supervisor Samantha Hull offered remarks on the impact of the banning of books.

  • GROUP 2:

    Video Clip 4: Author Ruby Bridges on Book Bans (6:50)

    Author Ruby Bridges talked about her childhood, her education experience in New Orleans in 1960 and her purpose for writing her books.

    Video Clip 5: Rep. Nancy Mace on Free Speech and School Curricula (4:00)

    Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) talked about free speech in the 1st Amendment and topics that should be considered in school curricula.

  • GROUP 3:

    Video Clip 6: Rep. Byron Donalds on Education Content and the Procurement Process (3:37)

    Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) talked about his experience in writing legislation regarding education content and the procurement process.

    Video Clip 7: 2022 KY Teacher of the Year Willie Carver on Academic Censorship (5:07)

    Teacher Willie Carver offered testimony on curriculum censorship and its impact on students.


    Have students from each of the groups present the perspectives they learned about in their videos. They should take notes on the handout for videos they did not watch, and they can add ideas that other students discuss.

    Choose an Activity:

    If you have time during this class period, you can engage in one of the following activities so students can deliberate what they have learned, after each perspective has been shared.

    If you need additional time, you can ask students to complete the exit slip in the next step, and as a homework assignment, have them consider the information they learned during class and prepare their positions before next class in which they will engage in the activity you have selected.


    As an exit slip, have students revisit the question from the beginning of class and write their reflections using details from the information they learned from the testimony during the hearings and class discussion:

    Who should be responsible for determining the content and materials that are included in school curricula?

    Students should submit their responses to the teacher.


    If students are interested in hearing additional perspectives, they can choose videos to view from the following collections and compare them to any of the previous groups. As an additional activity, students can research the procurement process for curriculum in their own districts.

    Student Perspectives:

    Video Clip: Central York High School Student Olivia Pituch on Censorship of LGBTQ+ Resources (4:10)

    Video Clip: Central York High School Student Christina Ellis on Book and Resource Ban (3:54)

    Video Clip: Turpin High School Student Claire Mengel on Diversity in Schools(3:55)

    Video Clip: Novi High School Student Krisha Ramani on Regulating Content in Schools and Youth Activism (5:05)

  • Parent/Activist Perspectives:

    Video Clip: Parent Perspective on Censorship (5:40)

    Mindy Freeman talked her experience as a parent of a transgender child and the significance of having access to LGBTQ+ books.

    Video Clip: Activist Jennifer Cousins on Academic Censorship (4:33)

    Activist and parent Jennifer Cousins talked about the impact of censoring the teaching of LGBTQ+ content in the classroom as well as Florida legislation.

Additional Resources


  • Abridge
  • Advocacy
  • Censorship
  • Civil Rights
  • Civil Rights Movement
  • Consensus
  • Contestation
  • Curriculum
  • Democracy
  • Discourse
  • Diversity
  • Federal Democracy
  • Homogeneity
  • Ideology
  • Inclusive
  • Indoctrination
  • Innovation
  • Lgbtq
  • Marginalize
  • Monolithic
  • Politicize
  • Procurement
  • Prohibition
  • Radical
  • Representative Democracy
  • Representative Government
  • Segregate
  • Self-censor
  • Sharecropper
  • Thurgood Marshall
  • Undemocratic
  • Unrestrained


Civil Rights & Civil LibertiesEducationLegislative Branch


High SchoolUniversity