Bruinton: Milford students should learn free from censorship


Ricardo Bruinton is a rising senior at Milford High School and the student representative to the Milford School District board of education.

Across our country, 45 states have introduced classroom censorship bills that restrict discussions on race, gender and related topics in school. To date, these bills have become law in 17 states, limiting the ability for millions of kids to explore new ideas, encounter different perspectives and develop critical-thinking skills. The classroom censorship movement is growing quickly. These laws start at the local school board level, where censorship policies are first adopted, before gaining traction at the state level. Education in Delaware is now under this attack.

On Monday, the Milford School District board of education is set to vote on a proposed revision to Policy 6103, which would create new, vague standards for so-called controversial and sensitive issues. The policy does little to define what may be controversial but requires that educators ensure the educational environment does not include anything offensive, whether that be conversations between students, a display in a classroom or the clothing worn by a student. Under this policy, lessons exploring the impact of systemic racism, the Holocaust or scientific realities like evolution may be outrightly banned.

We must call out this policy revision for what it is — a glaring infringement of our First Amendment right to free speech and expression, a blatant attempt to suppress open and honest dialogue, and a partisan attack to control the narrative.

Simply put, the First Amendment protects the right to share ideas, even those that some may find uncomfortable. It includes a student’s right to read and learn about the history and viewpoints of all communities — including their own identity — inside and outside of the classroom. It also includes educators’ right to teach diverse perspectives and facilitate open conversations without fear of censorship or retaliation. The revision to Policy 6103 infringes upon these rights and violates the basic principles of any democratic society. Protecting our constitutional rights, our democracy, means ensuring that our schools remain places where all voices, experiences and ideas are heard and respected.

Having the opportunity to learn and talk about the history and cultures of different communities benefits all students. Studies show that inclusive educational practices increase graduation rates, increase college preparedness and decrease bias incidents in schools. Encouraging education that highlights the value, cultures, histories and contributions of marginalized communities, particularly those that are often the most invisible in many classrooms, enhances cultural understanding and empathy, and fosters greater community connection. Policy 6103 would attempt to make these crucial conversations impossible, denying kids the ability to engage meaningfully with critical topics and jeopardizing efforts to push our schools, communities and state forward.

Too many kids can count on a single hand the number of times someone who represented their lived experience was acknowledged in their education. Policy 6103 would rob our children of this opportunity and, in doing so, rob our society of a brighter, better future. It’s our responsibility to fight for every student to see their history and experiences reflected in their classroom curriculum, to fight for every classroom to become a place where understanding replaces division.

Whether you have kids in school now or not, whether you live in Milford or not, local-level decisions have direct impacts on all of us. Pushing back against dangerous and discriminatory policies like 6103 ensures that we’re working toward a future we can proudly pass on to the next generation.

We must demand that the Milford board of education reject the proposed revision to Policy 6103.

Take action to voice opposition to the revision by joining education advocates ahead of the Milford board of education meeting Monday at 5:30 p.m. at Milford High School.

Reader reactions, pro or con, are welcomed at civiltalk@iniusa.org.

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