Can you believe that even during a state of quarantine, books are still being called to be pulled from libraries across the country? And that the reasoning for banning most of those said books is that they contain LGBTQ content? Really.
These “attempts” to remove these books rose to about a fifth last year when 80 percent – yes, 80 – of the year’s banned and/or challenged books feature LGBTQ characters, including Alex Gino’s George and John Oliver’s A Day In The Life Of Marlon Bundo, both of which I adore.
Author Alex Gino’s middle grade/YA novel, George, tells the story a young transgender girl who does whatever it takes to play Charlotte in her school’s production of Charlotte’s Web. Comedian/host of Last Week Tonight John Oliver, in retaliation to (Mike Pence’s daughter) Charlotte Pence’s book A Day In The Life Of The Vice President about her pet rabbit Marlon Bundo, put out a parody kids’ book A Day In The Life Of Marlon Bundo. This was written by Last Week Tonight writer Jill Twiss, telling the story about the titular Marlon Bundo as a gay rabbit.
Anyway, using only Gino’s novel as an example, according to The Guardian, the main concerns around George is that it has “sexual references” and “conflicts with traditional family structure,” probably – aside from the topic on transgender identity – for the main character and her older brother to be raised by a single mother, as well as some that say schools and libraries shouldn’t put out books for children and teens to read that “require discussion.”
This last point alone is ridiculous – aside from the one on deviating from the far-too-idealized “traditional family structure” because face it, no family is perfect – shouldn’t the ideal be for all books to encourage discussion? That is what books are all about! Each one is meant to be read, enjoyed, and then discussed with others, who will then take the time to analyze it and even share all around just how relatable its premise and/or characters are to the readers – to us.
Because #BooksConnectUs and books without discussion defeat this very purpose.
To add to the statistics, within the five years before 2015 (the year that same-sex marriage was legalized in the US) the number of LGBTQ books made up no more than 20 percent of American Library Association’s (ALA) Top 10 Most Challenged Books list. Since then, that number had jumped to 40 percent, and then last year, to 80.
80 percent. The fact that this was last year, and this is now 2020, the start of a brand new decade. We should be well beyond the point of discarding and leaving books off of shelves and out of open discussion within sanctioned properties such as schools and libraries, simply for having LGBTQ representation in any or all forms. It truly is disgusting and does much more harm than good.
I think I couldn’t say this statement from The Guardian – gathered from free-speech groups, such as the National Coalition Against Censorship, advocating for condemning the pressure off of libraries to ban these books – any better myself, so I’ll just end off this article with this food for thought…
When LGBTQ stories are silenced in this way, LGBTQ youth and children from LGBTQ families get the message that their own stories – their very lives – do not have value, that they are shameful. [But] reading stories that acknowledge their experiences, in which they can recognise themselves and their families, reinforces their sense of self-worth and helps them overcome the experience of and feelings associated with social marginalisation.
Featured Image via PinkNews
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