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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Anthony Romero, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, will travel to North Carolina on Saturday, February 28, to deliver the keynote address at the ACLU of North Carolina’s annual Frank Porter Graham Awards Dinner.

The statewide civil liberties organization, which is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its founding in 1965, will honor several individuals with awards for their efforts toward advancing civil liberties in North Carolina. The event is sold out.

What: ACLU of North Carolina’s Frank Porter Graham Awards Dinner

By Aleksandr Sverdlik, Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief

Claiming that they merely want to improve students' educational options, "school choice" proponents observed "National School Choice Week" over the past seven days. "School choice" may sound innocuous, but more often than not, a cry for "school choice" is a cry for private school vouchers – a reckless scheme that results in neither quality education nor real choice.

That's why the ACLU joined with allies Friday to file a friend-of-the-court brief opposing a North Carolina voucher program. As we explain in the brief, vouchers undermine the separation of church and state. They do this by shifting millions of taxpayer dollars from public schools – which are open to all, regardless of faith – to private schools, the vast majority of which are religious. In turn, taxpayer funds directly support religious instruction – and not just in theology class, but in biology class, history class, and even math class.

In North Carolina, for example, private religious schools are not required to comply with the same academic standards applied to public schools, and many use Christian textbooks published by Bob Jones University Press and Accelerated Christian Education. These publishers have produced textbooks teaching, among other inaccurate lessons, that "[d]inosaurs and humans were definitely on the earth at the same time and may even have lived side by side within the past few thousand years." What's more, private religious schools can and do discriminate, for example by excluding students on the basis of religion, sexual orientation, or disability.


RALEIGH – Readers around the country will celebrate Banned Books Week from September 21 to September 27 to draw attention to the threat posed by censorship. The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, which has helped communities across the state combat several book challenges in the past year, is calling on North Carolinians to use Banned Books Weeks to affirm their support for the freedom to read and to reject calls to deprive students of access to critically acclaimed works of literature.

“The freedom to read is just as essential to a healthy democracy as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and all the other rights protected by our Constitution,” said ACLU-NC Legal Director Chris Brook. “We will continue to work with North Carolinians across the state to combat censorship and protect the freedom to read for students and young people whenever necessary.”

Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982, according to the American Library Association. There were 307 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2013, and many more go unreported.


By Dr. Craig Fischer, Professor of Film and Cultural Studies at Appalachian State University

On Saturday, June 21, I hosted an ACLU of North Carolina-sponsored panel on “Comics Regulation and Comics Censorship” at Heroes Con, the Southeast’s longest running comicon. The well-attended discussion addressed instances when political and public outrage over the content of comic books clashed with the First Amendment.

The panel began with a discussion of a recent controversy in South Carolina, where legislators in the House of Representatives threatened to reduce state funding to the College of Charleston as a penalty for using Alison Bechdel’s lesbian-themed graphic novel Fun Home (2006) in a campus program. Present for the Fun Home discussion were Dr. Conseula Francis, a comics scholar and professor of English at the College of Charleston, and Christopher Brook, ACLU-NC Legal Director. Brook and Francis discussed the literary merits of Fun Home, the importance of protecting academic freedom, and the ways in which the “comic books are for kids” stereotype make adult graphic novels more susceptible to attack.