In the last few weeks, some states, such as Texas and Tennessee, have made headlines for their sweeping ban of books in schools and public libraries. Many titles have been removed after formal complaints, while others have been quietly pulled from shelves. According to NBC News, librarians have reported increasingly hostile working environments, with pressure to preemptively pull books that may spark parents’ outrage
What do these books have in common?
According to official complaints, these books are not age-appropriate. However, looking at the list of banned books may suggest a different motive; some include The Handsome Girl and Her Beautiful Boy, All Boys Aren’t Blue, Lawn Boy, Jack of Hearts (And Other Parts), and Drama. These books have gay or bisexual characters, facing complaints that it may cause students to question their sexuality before they even know what that means. Other books include When Wilma Rudolph Played Basketball and Ghost Boy, stories whose depictions of racism experienced by the main characters may cause white readers to feel discomfort.
The fact that countless books are flagged and banned from libraries showcase racism and sexuality has worried many. Students, who are questioning their sexuality, may feel alienation as they cannot find representation or answers in books anymore. The history of racism in the US may be slowly erased or watered down without diverse viewpoints. Freedom of speech may become limited, spreading from book bans in libraries to bans on media.
How did these books get flagged and banned?
In numerous school board meetings, conservative parents have been calling for the removal of several books that deal with sexuality, racism, gender, sex, and race. Some parents have filed complaints to formally challenge the appropriateness of many books, causing them to be reviewed by school administrators. Thus, even as school librarians have been trying to expand collections to include more diverse readings, the school board, administrators, and parents have been working to remove them. In addition, public libraries have also been forced to examine their collections of children’s and young adult novels. Considering local public libraries are funded at the county or city level, a librarian and a board must pull the book, review it, and determine whether it can remain in circulation once a complaint has been filed. If it remains in circulation, the library may face consequences such as an increase in complaints or less funding.
What can we do about it?
Stay informed. If you are living somewhere with books being banned and challenged, try to keep up to date on the news.
Attend the meetings where these books are being reviewed to have your opinion heard.
Reach out to your local library to see how you can help.
Find petitions or social media movements that are already fighting against this book ban. Currently, it is the school libraries who are facing the most conflict. Parents are urging for novels to be pulled that are “too adult” for them (i.e. talks about a sexuality that isn’t heterosexuality).
For more information, please visit:
Banned: Books on race and sexuality are disappearing from Texas schools in record numbers. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/texas-books-race-sexuality-schools-rcna13886
Here are 50 books Texas parents want banned from school libraries. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/texas-library-books-banned-schools-rcna12986
All photos found on Unsplash.com