May 25, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Comic About Students’ Rights Released Ahead of “March for Our Lives”

The advocacy groups Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and the National Coalition Against Censorship have joined to publish a downloadable comic by Kai Texel, just in time for the National School Walkout on March 14 and the March for Our Lives on March 24. Be Heard! is available for free and presents best practices for young people on asserting their rights to speech and protest, warns about risks, and provides additional resources.

This guide will be especially useful as teens and communities all around the country plan to march in response to the recent Valentine’s Day shooting that resulted in the deaths of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL.

Abena Hutchful, coordinator of NCAC’s Youth Free Expression Program and Kids’ Right To Read Project, says, “We hope that teachers will engage with their students in productive ways, and we want to make sure that students know what is—and is not—protected protest speech in schools.”

Be Heard! is available as a free download at CBLDF.org and NCAC.org, and through their social media channels. Follow #StudentsBeHeard for updates.

See the press release below for more information:

For Immediate Release:

Ahead of the National School Walkout and the March for Our Lives,

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and National Coalition Against Censorship

Release a Comic Book to Help Protect Students’ Rights

March 12, 2018 — As millions of American students assert their First Amendment rights in protests across the country, advocacy groups Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and National Coalition Against Censorship today released a new comic book to help protect students’ rights. Be Heard! is a free comic by cartoonist Kai Texel that outlines best practices to help kids assert their rights to speech, protest, assembly and petition, warns about risks, and provides resources to get more help. Be Heard! is available for free from CBLDF & NCAC, who encourage readers to share it freely and broadly in advance of the National School Walkout on March 14, the March for Our Lives on March 24 and local protests across the country.

Judy Blume, a member of the NCAC Board of Directors says, “This comic book feels just right. It’s so important to support and encourage kids on issues that affect their own lives and their country.”

Neil Gaiman, who cochairs CBLDF’s advisory board notes, “In the U.S., freedom of speech is paramount. The First Amendment states that you can’t be arrested for saying things the government doesn’t like. It’s important that students everywhere know that they have the right to be heard. This comic will help provide them with practical tools to raise their voice.”

Gene Luen Yang, whose distinctions include recognition as a MacArthur Fellow, the fifth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, and author of graphic novels including American Born Chinese, says, “A Chinese poet once described free expression as the mother of truth. In our age of fake news, speaking truth to power is more important than ever. This comic is a valuable guide that teaches students how to ensure their truth is heard.”

“Whether students choose to participate in this national movement or not, whether they walk out into the hallway or march to their Senator’s office, whether they wear orange or write an op-ed for the school paper, this moment is the ultimate First Amendment lesson,” said Abena Hutchful, coordinator of NCAC’s Youth Free Expression Program and Kids’ Right To Read Project. “We hope that teachers will engage with their students in productive ways, and we want to make sure that students know what is–and is not–protected protest speech in schools.”

Be Heard! is available as a free download at CBLDF.org and NCAC.org, and through their social media channels. Follow #StudentsBeHeard for updates.

For additional information contact:

Nora Pelizzari, NCAC, nora@ncac.org, Office (212) 807-6222, ext. 105 |  Mobile (708) 805-8289

Charles Brownstein, CBLDF, charles.brownstein@cbldf.org, (971) 266-8212

About Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF)

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is a nonprofit organization protecting the freedom to read comics! We provide legal aid to readers, creators, librarians, retailers, publishers, and educators who face the threat of censorship. We monitor legislation and challenge laws that would limit the First Amendment. We create resources that promote understanding of comics and the rights our community is guaranteed. Every day we publish news and information about censorship events as they happen. We are partners in the Kids’ Right to Read Project and Banned Books Week. Our expert legal team is available to respond to First Amendment emergencies at a moment’s notice. CBLDF is a lean organization that works hard to protect the First Amendment. For more information, visit cbldf.org.

About National Coalition Against Censorship

The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) is an alliance of 56 national nonprofit organizations dedicated to defending freedom of thought, inquiry, and expression for over 40 years. Through its Youth Free Expression Program and Kids’ Right to Read Project, NCAC advocates for the rights of students to speak, learn, and create freely. NCAC works with schools, teachers, parents and students to combat incidences of censorship, encourage policies that support free expression, and offer guidance on navigating free speech concerns. Visit us at ncac.org.

About Kai Texel

Kai Texel is a New Jersey based cartoonist and illustrator. Her clients include Felix the Cat Productions and Dulce Channel, and her work has been featured on CBS. Kai’s passion for video game design shows in her character-driven designs. Her art has been published in zines and anthologies such as Our Beloved Monsters. Kai sells her work at comic and anime conventions, and enjoys costume-making on the side. Cosplay is another creative passion of hers brought on by her love of video games. View more of Kai’s work at kaitexel.com.

NCAC’s Hutchful and Diana Haneski, the school media specialist at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, are both instructors in our Empowering Teens course taking place from April 24–May 8.

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Shelley Diaz About Shelley Diaz

Shelley M. Diaz (sdiaz@mediasourceinc.com) is School Library Journal's Reviews Team Manager and SLJTeen newsletter editor. She has her MLIS in Public Librarianship with a Certificate in Children’s & YA Services from Queens College, and can be found on Twitter @sdiaz101.

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Comments

  1. Annette Fulton says:

    Thank You for sharing this information.

  2. amy Kraemer says:

    I am disappointed in this comic. Yes it is important to know the rules, but this approach supposes kids don’t know the rules and are prone to violence and poor language skills. We need to give these young people credit for taking action, for taking their futures into their own hands. This should have been full of encouragement for peaceful protests, and their rights to have their voices heard. I don’t feel this will speak to teens but is degrading to their intelligence.

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