As millions of American students assert their First Amendment rights in protests across the country, advocacy groups Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and National Coalition Against Censorship today released a new comic book to help protect students' rights. Be Heard! is a free comic by cartoonist Kai Texel that 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. Be Heard! is available for free from CBLDF & NCAC, who encourage readers to share it freely and broadly in advance of the National School Walkout on March 14, the March for Our Lives on March 24 and local protests across the country.
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.”
"Whether students choose to participate in this national movement or not, whether they walk out into the hallway or march to their Senator's office, whether they wear orange or write an op-ed for the school paper, this moment is the ultimate First Amendment lesson,” said Abena Hutchful, coordinator of NCAC's Youth Free Expression Program and Kids' Right to Read Project. “We hope that teachers will engage with their students in productive ways and we want to make sure that students know what is--and is not--protected protest speech in schools."
Be Heard! is available as a free download at CBLDF.org and NCAC.org, and through their social media channels. Follow #StudentsBeHeardfor updates.