Woman in hijab speaks outside in front of microphone with a group of supporters behind her in casual clothes
Georgia Youth Justice Coalition representative Haya Fatmi speaks at a press conference before the Cobb County Board of Education meeting Sept. 15, 2023. (Courtesy of Georgia Youth Justice Coalition)

Student organizers in Cobb County are working to recruit more of their peers to speak out against the school board’s recent bans on certain books and classroom discussions.

On Friday, at the most recent school board meeting, public comment escalated to physical altercations after the board made last-minute changes to signup access. Students were upset with the changes. Cobb County students with the Georgia Youth Justice Coalition were there to speak in opposition to Georgia’s divisive concepts law.

 GYJC representative Haya Fatmi says restricting content has had the opposite effect on students’ learning.

“No matter how much you try to ban books or try to limit our education, that’s what’s going to get us to go out and seek for that, and to go out and read about it, and to learn about it and to explore ourselves more in that identity in that way,” Fatmi said.

Last month the Cobb County Board of education fired fifth grade teacher Katie Rinderle after 10 years of teaching for reading a book to students about gender identity. She has since appealed her dismissal.

Fatmi said despite the challenges it’s important to continue speaking out against the school board.

“While we do feel moments of hopelessness and defeat, thinking that we won’t be making a change, GYJC kind of grounds me in the fact that we are the change,” she said. “We have to be the change. Because if not us, then who?”

The Cobb Board of Education meets again Oct. 19.

This story comes to Fresh Take Georiga through a reporting partnership with GPB News, a non-profit newsroom covering the state of Georgia.

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