LGBTQ community, people of color in the crosshairs of banned book movement
In some Tennessee classrooms, a nonfiction comic book about the atrocities of the Holocaust is banned.
And one school district in Wisconsin banned from libraries a picture book about a gay rights activist who was assassinated.
In the last nine months, hundreds of books across dozens of states are being banned. A majority of the bans feature books written by authors who are people of color, LGBTQ+, Black and Indigenous, and feature characters from marginalized groups.
And now, some state lawmakers are joining the movement, spurred by conservative groups, to ban books from public schools and libraries.
This year in Arizona, state Republicans put forth a measure that would ban schools from teaching or directing students to study any material that is “sexually explicit.” In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed a bill to allow parents greater opportunity to review, and potentially object to, school library books that they find inappropriate. Virginia’s General Assembly, with some bipartisan support, also passed legislation giving parents a say as to whether their children are assigned sexually explicit materials in schools.
And in Idaho, state House Republicans passed a bill that would allow librarians to be prosecuted for allowing minors to check out material deemed harmful.
Some of the states with the most aggressive book bans include Texas with 713 bans, Pennsylvania with 456 bans, and Florida with 204 bans.
Deborah Caldwell-Stone, the director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, said book bans in the last 10 years have dealt “with the lives of LGBTQIA persons, either reflecting their experiences or talking about issues of concern to the LGBTQIA community.”
She said those bans have ranged from picture books depicting same-sex couples to young adult books talking about gender identities.
Caldwell-Stone said, “the one thing that has interrupted this” trend of banning books centered around LGBTQ+ themes comes after the 2020 murder of George Floyd by Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin.
The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.
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