Our entire organization (yes, that includes you!) was awarded the Maine Education Association's Honor Medal which is given “To recognize an MEA member who has demonstrated outstanding courage in defending academic freedom or in upholding the right of educators to adhere to the principles of their profession free from harassment and coercion. Also, to recognize a member who has faced a difficult period and risked personal welfare because of professional commitment.”
MASL President Heather Perkinson and MASL Intellectual Freedom Chair Karen Silverman received the award from MEA President Grace Leavitt, who said:
“The Maine Association of School Libraries is leading the fight in Maine for intellectual freedom and the freedom to read. It has been working with other organizations to form a coalition to defeat LD 123, a proposal that would make educators subject to criminal prosecution under Maine obscenity laws and would have a chilling effect in our schools. The MASL continues to promote the availability of books and materials that are a critical part of the welcoming and affirming school climates that our students need to feel safe and accepted so that they can learn and reach their potential. Many school librarians in our state have been viciously targeted by a vocal few who seek to ban books that are representative of our diverse students and an accurate and complete history. The MASL provides ongoing support and resources for school librarians across the state and MEA is pleased to award the Maine Association of School Libraries with our Honor Medal Award.”
Heather's acceptance of the award can be seen in this video and the text of her remarks is below:
"Thank you so much for this award and thank you for your support of school librarians. I am honored to accept it on behalf of the hundreds of school librarians and school library ed techs in Maine that I represent, who have indeed been demonstrating courage in the face of a barrage of book challenges aimed at the identities of some of our most at-risk students. In staunchly defending intellectual freedom, librarians across the state have been subjected to very serious harassment. We have been the target of frivolous FOIA requests, our photographs and contact information have been published on social media, we have received obscene messages and emails, and we have been falsely accused of grotesque crimes. It has gotten very personal, but make no mistake, these actions are part of an orchestrated attack, not just on librarians and the First Amendment, but on public education. So I am very pleased to accept this award not just because it recognizes our struggles and efforts, but also because it demonstrates that all of you stand ready to support us in fighting to uphold the ideals of public education in Maine."
Congratulations to all of you!