We are midway through 2018’s Banned Books Week, the annual event from the American Library Association (ALA) that celebrates the freedom to read. This year, half of the books listed in the ALA’s “Top Ten Most Challenged Books” contain LGBTQ content
Book challenges are “an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials,” according to the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF). The ALA’s OIF tracks challenges to library, school and university materials and estimates that 82-97 percent of challenges are not reported. Should you learn of a challenge in your community, report it to OIF.
During 2017, 416 books were challenged or banned nationwide. Among the top ten challenged/banned books for 2017, five contain LGBTQ content and are as follows:
- Drama, by Raina Telgemeier, a graphic novel about a girl in middle school trying to navigate the social world of the drama club; one of her friends is gay;
- George, by Alex Gino, about a transgender girl;
- Sex is a Funny Word, by Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth, a book about bodies and sexuality, inclusive of all gender identities;
- And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson and illustrated by Henry Cole. Returning after a brief hiatus from the Top Ten Most Challenged list, this ALA Notable Children’s Book, published in 2005, was challenged and labeled because it features a same-sex relationship.
- I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, the autobiographical story of a transgender girl.
Recently a group of pastors in Maine tried to have LGBTQ-inclusive books removed from the Banned Books Week display at a public library, claiming they were inappropriate because they “promote homosexuality” and are “risque and immodest.”
Close out your week by going to the library to check out and/or buy and read a banned book!