Tag: Banned Books

LGBTQ Books Are Being Censored and Authors Are Fighting Back

According to Entertainment Weekly Middle Schools across the country are resisting teaching LGBTQ material in the classroom. One incident occurred with an author called Jen-Petro Roy, who had booked a trip to Texas in order to talk with students about her book, P.S. I Miss You.

 

P.S. I Miss You

Image Via Goodreads

 

The novel follows an eleven year old girl who begins questioning her faith and sexuality, discovering she may not be straight and what that means for her identity. But, out of the blue, the school cancelled the scheduled visit.

According to Roy, the school had decided that by featuring her work, they’d be promoting an LGBT ‘agenda’ and she didn’t end up going to Texas after all. This is only the latest in a long string of controversies in children’s literature. Despite children’s books pushing forward with progressive attitudes, many LGBTQ voices are being silenced.

 

Image via Entertainment Weekly

Authors all over the country have noted they are suffering from being banned from even discuss LGBTQ material and many feel like they’re being gaslit. Schools often give excuses for teachers writing this material to not appear, making excuses that include scheduling conflicts or students study time. She describes this practice as ‘soft censorship’ and notes its really quite troubling, essentially enacting a ban on what literature young people are exposed to. She discovered parents had become upset at her for featuring pride flags on social media and they complained to the school, which likely helped make the decision.

 

Renegades

Image Via Amazon

 

The author further noted that bans might get more attention for the schools, making it extra motivation to allow them to get media attention they wouldn’t otherwise receive. Anonymous employees for schools revealed they had pulled books they did not ‘line up’ with school values, with nearly one third being tossed out or banned. For example: Renegades was banned because the main character has two dads.

The authors noted that kids are suffering the most for this and that this banning of content will ultimately hurt kids in the future. What do you think of these schools and their policies? Tell us in the comments.

 

 

 

Featured Image Via Barnes And Noble 

An incarcerated man reads - as is his right

U.S. Prisons Ban Books Critical of Criminal Justice System

For a country intent on the loosest possible definitions of free speech, one of our most marginalized populations is subject to an insidious degree of censorship.

The United States—the world leader in incarceration, imprisoning 2.2 million at this very moment—is fixated on free speech, but we favor the adjective over the verb. Prisons throughout the country are banning books that disagree with the racial disparity in U.S. prisons, the prison-industrial complex, and other incisive critiques of mass incarceration. And some are banning books altogether: one Georgia jail recently imposed a ban on all books, excluding only religious texts. Louisiana has banned non-Christian religious material, a decision that evidently violates the Constitutional provisions for religious freedom. Even the more liberal state of Washington forbade outsiders to make charitable book donations to prisons. Although the Washington Department of Corrections has rolled back the ban to accept donations from a small, specified list of charities, this compromise hardly changes the fact that WDOC only changed the rule because it couldn’t get away with it.

 

Books banned in Texas prisons, exceeding 15,000 total | Image Via Washington Post

 

Recently, the Arizona Department of Corrections has banned Chokehold, a non-fiction work exploring the role of race within the criminal justice system. Written by a former prosecutor, the book dispenses advice for black men and details the rights people can use to protect themselves (for example, during searches). While this may be unjust, it’s not unprecedented: North Carolina and Florida have banned The New Jim Crowanother book dedicated to exposing racism’s inextricable link to mass incarceration.

This past week, the American Civil Liberties Union formally addressed the issue, requesting that Arizona overturn this ban. An excerpt from the letter explains the hypocrisy inherent in the ban:

The very people who experience extreme racial disparity in incarceration cannot be prohibited from reading a book whose purpose is to examine and educate about that disparity. Improving understanding of policing, incarceration, and racial bias is especially critical given Arizona’s stark racial disparities and overall high rates of incarceration.

Advocates have pointed out the practical issues with these bans, those that transcend moral or ethical arguments. There is no budgetary component to book-donation charities, meaning that there are no financial consequences for allowing these charities to stock prison libraries. It’s also likely that incarcerated people will not spend their entire lives in prison. Given that the average prison sentence is three years, state departments of correction should assume that most of these people will return to society. Shouldn’t we want them to be emotionally healthy when they do? Shouldn’t we want them to be educated?

Under the First Amendment, only books which would actively endanger the prison or the people in it are eligible for bans. This clause would, for example, bar a non-fiction work that might detail how to make explosives or weaponry. The intent is purely physical rather than psychological; ostensibly, there is no danger to society in allowing prisoners to understand the judicial system that keeps them confined. But there is a danger to the system that imprisons them.

 

 

 

Featured Image Via Video Blocks.

John Oliver’s Gay Bunnies Book Among Most Challenged Titles of 2018

Banning books isn’t uncommon. Whether it be because of violent material, political agendas or explicit sexual content, people will always find a reason to ban a book. But what if one of those books was about gay bunnies.

 

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver Presents A Day In The Life Of Marlon Bundo is a children’s book about the titular bunny, the pet of Vice President Mike Pence, and his LGBT relationship with another bunny named Wesley. The book is a parody of Marlon Bundo’s A Day In The Life Of The Vice President, written by Pence’s daughter Charlotte, about the same bunny. The LGBT themes are meant as a swipe towards the Vice President’s stance against same-sex marriage.

 

Marlon Bundo covers
Image Via Quartz

 

Both books sold well and the proceeds for each went to different charities, but some weren’t so happy with Oliver’s book.

The American Library Association released a list of the eleven most challenged books of 2018, and John Oliver’s parody book landed on the number 2 spot on the list. The description reads: “banned and challenged for including LGBTQIA+ content, and for political and religious viewpoints”.

The ALA defines a “challenged” book as one that has been the subject of a formal complaint by a library or a school due to content that is deemed inappropriate for younger readers. Other books that made the list include Thirteen Reasons Why, The Hate U Give and surprisingly Captain Underpants.

 

Do you think John Oliver’s book should be on the list?

 

 

Featured Image Via Variety

Arthur displays his library card.

A Librarian’s Guide to Fighting Discrimination

Earlier this year, the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) published a digital resource for librarians as part of its push for freedom of expression (and book titles) in school libraries. The manual, an eight-page PDF file titled “Defend LGBTQ Stories,” outlines a number of difficult or delicate circumstances educators will encounter as their students develop literary tastes, and offers specific advice on how to be an ally and set an example of compassion for all students. The guide offers librarians simplified tools for de-stigmatizing LGBTQ themes, protesting banned books, staying up to date on school policy changes, communicating with the NCAC, and sharing their experiences on social media.

This fledgeling resource — a small, but mighty PDF — comes as part of a subset of the NCAC’s Youth Free Expression Program called the Kids’ Right to Read Project (KRRP). This grassroots-inspired program unites community members and national organizations to oppose the growing tangle of restrictions placed on library media in American schools. According to the NCAC’s website, the KRRP rallies “teachers, booksellers, librarians, local reporters and free speech advocates” to protect the reading rights of students.

image

These subsets of the NCAC, itself an entity composed of fifty nonprofit organizations, do not have the legal clout to directly influence policy change in the American education system. Instead, they rely on time-tested community advocacy to drum up significant local support to challenge cases on an individual basis, while making these methods accessible to the public. Since 2016, for example, the Florida Citizens Alliance (FLCA) has pushed bills which aim to restrict materials allowed in Florida classrooms based on their educational value. The NCAC offers a thorough breakdown of the proposed legislation, a timeline for its development, and a history of the FLCA’s past initiatives. This document, available on the NCAC’s website, is free to read and share, and gives activists the help they need to make sure kids can read whatever they please.

While the NCAC’s resource “Defend LGBTQ Stories” is in effect a glorified How-To guide for being a properly “woke” librarian in an American school, it is nonetheless a tremendously productive and helpful tool which, in the hands of community activists and national associations alike, has the potential to effect real change and inspire a future generation that embraces diversity.

 

Featured Image via Arthur