Book Censorship News, September 30, 2022

Moms for Liberty and similar groups say they are fighting for “parental rights” by trying to remove books from schools. They claim to speak for all parents. However, the truth is that most parents (and people in general) do not support book bans. Less than 1% of Florida parents did so when given the option to deny their children access to the books of their choice from the school library.

“Parents’ rights” groups like these assume that parents are conservative by nature. They treat their perspective as “common sense” that no parent wants their children to have access to a picture book that shows a boy in a dress, or their teen to be able to read a book with a sex scene in it, or one that’s safer -Teaches sex practices, or one that discusses rape. But there are just as many (and probably many more) parents who want their kids to have access to LGBTQ+, BIPOC, and various books.

This framing also completely erases the existence of queer families. What about the rights of queer parents who want their children to be able to find books with two mom or two dad families? Don’t they have a right to be included in family classes or in classroom libraries? Is their existence age inappropriate? Shouldn’t their children be allowed to mention their families in class? Then, of course, there is the existence of queer kids themselves. Don’t parents of trans children have the right to have an affirmative classroom for their child where they can find books to relate to?

What about black families? Don’t they have the right to be included in educational materials? (Books by Black authors are among the most banned and contested.) Why are the discussions Black families have to have with their children about racism and police violence considered “age inappropriate”? Are “parental rights” only for white parents?

However, it’s not just accepting, queer, or BIPOC parents who are left out of this conversation. The other assumption made by “parental rights groups” is that all parents know what is best for their child and will protect them. Unfortunately, not all children have such a family.

“Parental rights” groups facilitate abuse. They separate children from support networks. They keep important information from children that could protect them. Books (and lessons) on sex education and consent can help children put into words the sexual abuse they are experiencing and enable them to reach out. By insisting that these conversations should only take place “at home,” groups like Moms for Liberty ignore that the home is not always a safe place for these conversations.

For trans and queer children living in unaccepting and even abusive families, the endorsement of books can be a lifeline. You can help them understand themselves better and realize that they are not alone. You can make the school as a whole feel more accepted by having queer books prominently displayed.

The truth is, I don’t think the last point is an accident. I think that’s exactly the point of keeping LGBTQ books out of schools: to make it harder for queer and transgender students to be themselves. To isolate them. So that bigoted parents have more control over them. But while these things can make kids go into hiding — or, all too often, suicidal tendencies — they don’t make them straight or cis. It just prevents them from reaching their full potential as someone who is at peace with themselves and in the community.

What you can do now to fight censorship

a graphic reading Do you know when your school board election is?  Deselect book banner!  Protect the freedom of reading!

Kelly has mentioned this in previous Censorship News Roundups, but I want to get the point across: Now, find out when your next school board election is and make a plan to vote. Check out the nominees and remember that the Book Ban Brigade doesn’t necessarily say that directly on their platform, so do your research outside and keep an eye out for dog whistles – like “parental rights!”

Then tell your friends and family. Offer to drive her to the polling station if you can. Create a group plan for voting. Encourage people to vote by talking about it on social media. (Feel free to use this graphic.) This is the best way to prevent these bans. (Bonus points: do the same for Library Committee elections!)

Two public schools in Louisville (KY) voted unanimously to retain Gender Queer on the shelves of the university library. The meeting lasted four minutes.

Katy ISD (TX) has passed a new policy that requires parents to give high school students formal permission before they can borrow books from class libraries. Parents are also notified when students check out a book from the school library. Because we all know that the most dangerous thing teenagers face are books.

The Superintendent of the Alamance-Burlington School System (NC) drew Gender Queer of schools without going through a book challenge process.

The Pickens County (SC) School District has been removed Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi from schools after using it as a supplemental resource in English classes for two years.

Dearborn Public School (MI) Libraries has suspended access to all digital books after multiple titles were contested. Hundreds of people came to protest and support the ban.

The Seaman Board of Education (KS) voted to remove it Me and Earl and the dying girl by Jesse Andrews from schools, but were further split 3-3 The lovely bones by Alice Sebold and Perfect by Ellen Hopkins, so they’re staying on the shelves. The parent who challenged The lovely bones said at the board meeting: “Children don’t really have any experience with [rape]. We don’t have any books in there [the library] about how to make meth or guns and how to use them properly, or pipe bombs, for good reason, because that kind of knowledge is dangerous in the wrong hands.”

“Did a Pennsylvania school district ban this girls who code Books? The answer is complicated.”

The “parental rights groups” need to come to the Canadian school boards and parrot US talking points…not knowing how the Canadian school boards operate, who do not have the authority to control what books are assigned to schools or carried in school libraries. As British Columbia’s former Deputy Secretary of Education put it, “A Starbucks board member wouldn’t tell anyone how much milk to put in a latte.”

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Pamphlets were distributed in the parking lot of an elementary school in Kelowna, BC, claiming that SOGI (an optional teaching tool on sexual orientation and gender identity) promotes “homosexuality and transgender ideology.” It also includes images of It’s perfectly normal. The person distributing the brochures was not a parent. The school district manager said so It’s perfectly normal is not located in any school district, but a copy is available for parents to consult as a resource when withdrawing their children from sex education classes.

It’s perfectly normal, Sex is a funny wordand What does a babe doThey were all removed from the South Central Regional Library in Winkler, Manitoba, during a review process after they were challenged as “pornography.” Just a reminder: This is not how books should be reviewed. Now other users are denied access to these books just because one person complained.

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