More than 600 authors, publishers and groups condemn book bans


More than 600 best-selling authors, publishers, bookstore owners and advocacy groups on Wednesday condemned the recent wave of LGBTQ and race-related book bans in public school libraries across the country.

In recent weeks, lawmakers, school officials, and parents in at least 10 states – including New York, Texas, and Virginia – have sought to get rid of books on the lived experiences of black and LGBTQ people from schools. elementary, intermediate and secondary.

Some who dispute the books argue that they contain graphic illustrations of LGBTQ sexual experiences or paint an unflattering picture of the country’s history with race.

But in a joint statement, the signatories – led by the National Coalition Against Censorship, an alliance of 57 US nonprofit groups that defend free speech – called the effort to ban the books a “political attack. organized “which” threatens the education of American children. ”

“Libraries offer students the opportunity to discover books and other materials that they might never see otherwise and the freedom to make their own choices about what to read,” the statement said. “Denying young people this freedom to explore – often on the basis of a single controversial passage taken out of context – will limit not only what they can learn, but what they can become.

The group included more than 50 independent bookstores, nearly 80 advocacy groups, America’s top publishers (including Penguin Random House and Scholastic) and dozens of authors, including the author of bestselling children’s books. Judy Blume.

Books about race, sexual orientation and gender identity have always been contested in schools, but in recent weeks school libraries have seen a wave of opposition.

Last month, the governors of Texas and South Carolina urged public school officials to ban several books containing “pornographic” and “obscene” content. A member of the Flagler County School Board in Florida filed a complaint with local authorities after finding copies of ‘Not All Boys Are Blue’ – a young adult memoir detailing the ordeals of being a black gay boy – in school libraries in his district. And in Spotsylvania County, Va., School board members voted to have books containing “sexually explicit” material removed from school library shelves, with two board members calling for books to be cremated.

Some of the most contested books in recent weeks include “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison, “All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M. Johnson and “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe.

Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom at the American Library Association, previously told NBC News that while reported issues against books with LGBTQ and racial content are historically “constant,” this year the The association saw a “cooling” on the rise.

“I have been with ALA for two decades now and have never seen such a volume of challenges come,” she said. “The impact will reach students who desperately want and need books that reflect their lives, that answer questions about their identity, about their experiences they still desperately need and often feel they can’t.” talk to adults about it. “

Gay advocates who signed the statement echoed Caldwell-Stone’s concerns about the LGBTQ community.

“Every young LGBTQ needs to see themselves in stories about their life, to let them know they belong as they are,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO of GLAAD, a media advocacy organization LGBTQ, in a press release.All leaders must speak out against rhetoric and hostile behavior targeting vulnerable young people and the books about their lives, and prioritize protecting children and safe spaces for all to learn. “

Author Kelly Yang signed the declaration after the children’s novel “Front Desk,” about a Chinese immigrant experience, was challenged by school administrators in Plainedge, New York, and York County, Pennsylvania, in September.

She said she was pushing back because growing up she had never seen herself pictured in books.

“I remember going through this and feeling incredibly lonely,” Yang said. “We’ve finally made great strides and the fact that it can be so easily erased by these book bans, and all of these books being taken out and in some cases burned, it feels like an existential crisis. Like we can be erased. at any time, and it’s a dehumanizing feeling. “

To follow NBC output to Twitter, Facebook & Instagram