Cameron Samuels (they/them/theirs) organized nationally recognized efforts against book banning and LGBTQ+ internet censorship in the Katy Independent School District in Texas. Within months of once facing the school board alone, receiving no applause while other speakers stoked fear with bigotry, Samuels packed school board meetings and distributed hundreds of banned books donated by publishers and non-profits to students across Texas. The ACLU filed a legal complaint on Samuels' behalf that resulted in the district unblocking queer internet resources like the Trevor Project and the Montrose Center, and President Barack Obama recognized Samuels for their efforts against book banning.
Samuels is now organizing a coalition of Students Engaged in Advancing Texas to demonstrate youth visibility in policymaking. In the Texas Legislature, SEAT organized on the frontlines in opposition to legislation diminishing students' rights, spearheaded bills increasing student representation in educational decisions, and developed amendments against the House Bill 900 book ban bill. With SEAT, Samuels has organized events with Sec. John B. King and Oscar-nominee Pamela Ribon, visited the White House to meet President Joe Biden, protested the state takeover and library closures in Houston ISD, and testified before the US Senate Committee on the Judiciary for a hearing on book bans.
In 2022, Samuels was named the inaugural Youth Honorary Chair of Banned Books Week, a Seventeen Magazine Voice of the Year, an NBC Pride 30 trailblazer, and one of Teen Vogue's 21 Under 21 and GLAAD's 20 Under 20. Samuels also served on the Campaign for Our Shared Future's Student Task Force. This past year, Samuels received the Trailblazer Award from the Human Rights Campaign, was recognized in OutSmart as a hometown hero, and was honored as Pride Houston's Honorary Trendsetter Grand Marshal. In 2024, Samuels will be a SXSW EDU panelist for "How to Be a Freedom Fighter" on the unprecedented attacks on education and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Select Publications by Cameron Samuels
Select Testimony by Cameron Samuels
House Bill 900 Book Ban - Library Standards Implementation (Texas State Board of Education, Dec 2023)
Book Bans: Examining How Censorship Limits Liberty and Literature (U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Sep 2023)
Comprehensive Anti-Transgender Policy (Katy Independent School District, Aug 2023)
Safe Spaces in Schools / LGBTQ+ Extracurricular Ban, 88(R) SB 1072 (Texas Senate Committee on Education, Apr 2023)
Student Voices in Educational Policymaking, 88(R) HB 2647 (Texas House Committee on Education, Mar 2023)
LGBTQ+ and BIPOC Censorship in School Libraries and Internet (Katy Independent School District, Aug 2021 - May 2022)
Whitewashing Social Studies Curriculum, 87(1) SB 3 (Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs, Jul 2021)