September 18th -24 is Banned Books Week according to BannedBooksWeek.org. This is an organization that dates back to 1982 and tries to “highlight the value of free and open information.” The theme of this year’s event is “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us”, focusing one the harms created by censoring books and bringing awareness to the trend of banning books spiking the past couple years.
As we mentioned in a previous article, book banning is on the rise with more than 50% of US states banning books. This is happening at the same time as so many new state legislatures are passing laws restricting what teachers can say, especially around race and gender and when being confronted with “CRT”. The goal seems to be to turn back the clock on gender politics and to some degree, race relations and force everyone to a mentality of gender and racial defaults that was more common a decade ago.
If you look below at BannedBooksWeek.org’s list of the 10 most challenged books in 2022, six of them are on the list because of LGBTQIA+ themes and one because of an anti-police message.
- Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe – LGBTQIA+ and sexual content
- Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison – LGBTQIA+ and sexual content
- All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson – LGBTQIA+ and sexual content
- Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez – LGBTQIA+ and sexual content
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – Profanity and anti-police message
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie – Profanity, sexual content, and the use of a gay slur
- Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews – Sexual content and profanity
- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison – Child sex abuse
- This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson – LGBTQIA+
- Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin – LGBTQIA+ and sexual content
In fact you can look at lists of the 10 most challenged books each year, going back to 2001. It is fascinating to look through these lists because they are a snapshot of what was important to students in those years and what parents feared. These books were not challenged because they were unpopular books. These are books that kids want to read. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling is listed for multiple years as well as award winning classics like The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou and Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck.
If you want to get involved or learn more there are activities every day this week.
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