Schools and universities have long been battlegrounds for high-stakes disputes about free speech in the U.S. Tensions in recent years, however, have stemmed less from the misadventures of inflammatory guest speakers or uncouth staff, but from something much more fundamental: what students are taught. PEN America, a free expression advocacy group, estimates that state legislators across 33 states introduced 122 “educational gag orders” in 2021, limiting classroom discussions on race, gender, and other “divisive” topics. The findings come at a time when public school boards and state governments have also restricted specific books from being taught in their classrooms or circulating in school libraries. Conservative lawmakers, the chief architects of these bills, claim they’re protecting American youth from a “radical” and “un-American” educational agenda. But their opponents see something far more sinister: a crass attempt to suppress subjects and perspectives that challenge tidy, simplistic, and exclusionary narratives of the American experience.