Following recent tragic events across the country, and with the increased campaigning of the election cycle beginning, it is certain that this year will see more students, teachers, and communities creating and participating in protests to voice their concerns both locally and on the national stage. For educators interested in conveying both the knowledge of First Amendment rights as well as ways for students to utilize them, CBLDF’s free resource Be Heard! is the perfect starting point.
Last year, as millions of American students asserted their First Amendment rights in protests across the country, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and National Coalition Against Censorship created a free resource to help protect students’ rights. Be Heard!, a free comic by cartoonist Kai Texel, 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.
In light of reports each year that fewer students and adults can name a single right protected by the First Amendment, this comic is ideal for educators looking to open up a dialog about academic freedom, the rights to protest, school policies, Hazelwood and Tinker decisions, and much more associated with free expression. Because of the timeliness of Be Heard!, it was picked up by publications all across the country, like Teen Vogue, The Advocate, as a crucial text to read and distribute before planned protests. Authors and free speech advocates also hailed the creation of the comic last year as an invaluable resource.
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 co-chairs CBLDF’s advisory board notes, “In the US, 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.”
Read Be Heard! here and share the link cbldf.org/BeHeard freely and broadly!