CBLDF and NCAC Present — How to Fight Book Bans: Student Strategies

Join us on February 28, 2022 at 8:00 pm ET for an interactive strategy session to discuss the current attacks on books in schools and learn how you can defend the right to read in your community and beyond. Meet authors, free expression experts, and student activists from York, PA and San Antonio, TX to share strategies for fighting censorship in schools.


  • A message from Judy Blume
  • Author strategies on book bans and youth advocates with MariNaomi and Maia Kobabe
  • Student strategies to fight book bans with Edha Gupta and Olivia Pituch (Central York School District) and Amanda Jennings (North East Independent School District)
  • Creating allyship with students with Lily Freeman (GLSEN National Student Council Member) and Debra Quarles (Head Librarian at Shaker Heights Middle School in Cleveland, OH)
  • Resources to support students
  • Open discussion


MariNaomi (she/they) is the award-winning author and illustrator of Kiss & Tell: A Romantic Resume, Ages 0 to 22Dragon’s Breath and Other True StoriesTurning JapaneseI Thought YOU Hated ME, the Life on Earth trilogyDirty Produce, and the upcoming collage-comics memoir I Thought You Loved Me. Their work has appeared in over eighty print publications and has been featured on websites such as The New Yorker’s Daily Shouts, The Rumpus, LA Review of Books, Midnight Breakfast and BuzzFeed, and has been translated into French and Russian. MariNaomi’s comics and paintings have been featured in the Smithsonian, the de Young Museum, the Cartoon Art Museum, the Asian Art Museum, and the Japanese American Museum. In 2011 and 2018, Mari toured with the literary roadshow Sister Spit. They are the founder and administrator of the Cartoonists of Color Database, the Queer Cartoonists Database, and the Disabled Cartoonists Database.

Maia Kobabe (e/em/eir) is a nonbinary, queer author and illustrator from the Bay Area, California. Eir first full-length book, Gender Queer: A Memoir, was published in May 2019. Maia’s short comics have been published by The New Yorker, The Nib, The Washington Post and in many print anthologies including The Secret Loves of Geeks, Faster Than Light Y’all, Gothic Tales of Haunted Love, Advanced Death Saves, Be Gay, Do Comics, and The Most Important Comic Book on Earth. Before setting out to work freelance full-time, e worked for over ten years in libraries. Eir work is heavily influenced by fairy tales, homesickness, and the search for identity.

Debra Quarles is currently the Head Librarian at Shaker Heights Middle School in Cleveland, OH. Her interest and passion center on promoting student agency. It is the driving force behind her advocacy work in literacy, intellectual freedom, and educational equity. Debra has earned a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science and is a Doctoral Candidate in the Dept. Education degree in Interprofessional Leadership, both from Kent State University. 

Edha Gupta is a 17-year-old civic engagement activist and senior at Central York High School. She spearheaded the advocacy campaign that lead to the Central York School Board reversing their district-wide freeze on an anti-racist resource guide. Edha, an active member of Central York’s Panther Anti-Racist Union and one of Seventeen magazine’s 2021 Voices of the Year honorees, plans to go into medicine.

Amanda Jennings is a 17-year-old senior at Ronald Reagan High School in San Antonio, Texas. She has been volunteering at her local library for several years. In a recent school board meeting, Amanda spoke out against pulling books from school libraries within the district. In the fall she will be attending Texas Tech University Honors College and ultimately intends to earn a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. Amanda plans to continue advocating for free speech.

Olivia Pituch is a 17-year-old activist, member of the LGBTQ+ community, and senior at Central York High School. This past September, she worked alongside Edha and fellow members of the Panther Anti-Racist Union to reverse the Central York School Board’s district-wide freeze on a list of diversity resources. This coming fall, Olivia plans to attend Elizabethtown College where she will study political science and continue her activism work.

This event is co-hosted by the National Coalition Against Censorship and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.