It is estimated that 41 percent of the books banned in US classrooms and school libraries during the 2021-2022 school year contained LGBTQ+ content, new report It was released by PEN America at the start of this year’s Banned Books Week.
Some LGBT advocates say the report reflects a “larger organized national attack on LGBT youth”.
Book bans in the United States have risen over the past few years, according to a PEN America report released on Monday. While some data suggests classroom censorship efforts have increased by about 250 percent over the past year, the trend appears to be widespread, with the American Library Association reporting an “unprecedented” number of requests to ban books in 2021.
In April, PEN America . released a report It covers the first nine months of the 2021-2022 school year. This report found bans on 1,145 unique books, about 33 percent of which were found to “explicitly address LGBTQ+ topics, or contain notable LGBTQ+ heroes or minor characters.”
A recent PEN America report found an increase in the percentage of banned books containing LGBTQ+ content. According to updated data for the New York City-based nonprofit — which this time evaluated banned titles during the entire 2021-2022 school year from July 2021 to June 2022 — 41 percent of titles included LGBTQ+ themes, LGBTQ+ superheroes or significant minor characters. . Of the 674 titles with LGBTQ+ topics, about 9 percent were about transgender topics, the report said.
The PEN America report said the book ban grew into a “full social and political movement” during the 2021-2022 school year, which the organization described as “supported by local, state and national groups.”
“The vast majority of books targeted by these groups for removal feature LGBTQ+ characters or characters of color, and/or cover race and racism in American history, LGBTQ+ identities, or sex education,” PEN America said.
PEN America defines book bans as actions “taken against a book based on its content and as a result of parental or community challenges, administrative decisions, or in response to direct or threatening action by lawmakers or other government officials,” with the effect of “a book being accessible.” Previously it is completely removed from availability to students, or where access to the book is restricted or curtailed.”
The report includes a reservation that the titles listed were either reported to PEN America or discussed in the media, and therefore “it is possible that there will be additional unreported bans.”
In addition to the LGBTQ+ theme, 40 percent of the banned titles included heroes of color or major minor characters of color. 22 percent of the banned titles included sexual content, 21 percent dealt with “issues related to race and racism” and 10 percent included topics related to rights and activism.
In response to the report, media advocacy organization GLAAD LGBTQ identified book bans in Monday press release As “the newest way to target gays and young people”. In addition to “radical” members of the school communities, GLAAD said the book ban is being pushed by “national anti-LGBT organizations and politicians”. GLAAD said its president and CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis, is one of the authors whose book was questioned this year about inclusion in a children’s library in Michigan.
Ellis said NEWSWEEK There were “very few children’s books that reflect our family” over 10 years ago. “LGBT families and youth did not have much representation in children’s media of any kind,” she said.
In 2022, “that changed,” Ellis said, with GLAAD publishing children’s books and “countless other books,” contributing to an increase in inclusive books and other media.
“But as the acting increases, there is also a backlash that follows,” Ellis said. “The thing about the current reaction is that it’s pointless.” She said the estimated 20 percent of Generation Z who identify as LGBTQ+ “are fully standing up and resisting censorship against LGBTQ, and soon they will vote.”
Meanwhile, Ellis said the same organizations and personalities battling the mass media are also often seen engaging in battles over other matters that involve “private decisions.”
“Banning books is part of this extremist agenda that voters must forcefully reject,” she said. “The freedom to read, to marry one we love, and to have a family on our own terms should never be up for discussion.”
Referring to the upcoming midterm elections, Ellis said 2022 is “a very important year to vote.”
“We’ve been inundated with anti-LGBTQ bills – more than 240 this year – and most of those target young people statewide,” she said. “This year’s elections are all about protecting young people and voting against bullies.”