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Book Banning: Silencing of the Pages


Books celebrating varying experiences are being banned all across the United States for their deemed “inappropriate” content during the months of late 2022 and early 2023 through the proponents of laws in various states.

What do you mean books are being banned? Doesn’t that infringe on freedom of speech? Those were the exact questions that plagued me when I first discovered the different book bans that were occurring all over the United States. The majority of the books being banned all revolve around sharing experiences of BIPOC and LGBTQ+ individuals or issues of discrimination that those groups have faced. According to PEN America, book bans occur when the choice of a book is overridden by school boards or even politicians. 38% of banned books during this time period surround the health and well-being of students or how students deal with bullying, substance abuse, and puberty. Another 30% of banned books discuss racism or contain characters of color. Additionally, 26% of banned books represent LGBTQ+ themes in varying ways. Other categories include physical violence, grief alongside death, sexual experiences, and abortion.

Most of these topics were deemed inappropriate for schools to be allowing children to be introduced to. But who dictates what is appropriate for school and public libraries to distribute? Other than state representatives, a lot of the work of pushing for the banning of books are advocacy groups that are fighting to push their values onto books available in schools. Moms for Liberty, being connected to 58% of advocacy-based book bans occurring during this time span. Moms for Liberty’s mission as a non-profit organization, as defined on their website, are “dedicated to fighting for the survival of America by unifying, educating, and empowering parents to defend their parental rights at all levels of government”. This non-profit tends to participate in book banning by voicing opinions against school curriculum that mentions LGBTQ+ rights, race, ethnicity, or discrimination in any form. PEN America also documents that 25% of individual book bans are related to political pressure with examples of laws being set in place taking place in states such as Missouri. In Missouri, the Provision S.B. 775 law makes distribution to students of material deemed “harmful to minors” by any school officials or any visitor to a school a misdemeanor that can result in fines or jail. Sadly, due to the vagueness of this law among others, most school districts that are running rampant with state-forced book bans tend to restrict many graphic novels despite a few exceptions discussing “artistic significance”. Books banned under this law include The Complete Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman and Be Gay, Do Comics: Queer History, Memoir, and Satire by the Nib.

My take on the banning of book titles, such as the ones mentioned above, is that I don’t believe that it is right for politicians and groups to ban books for their content. Now, I understand that books that discuss more adult topics, such as adult relationships or suicide, should not be introduced to younger children, I don’t believe books such as This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson and I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daugther by Erika Sánchez should be banned because, they allow for the discovery of lives that differ from our own or even allow for clarity in the experiences these characters face that mirror ours. Despite Pritzker, Illinois’ governor, banning the concept of book bans within the state of Illinois, but as for the rest of the United States and the world, students should not face censorship whenever they are trying to learn about the world and instead be gently introduced to topics and be taught empathy and understanding so that, when they do start to gain interest into stories, the pages aren’t glued shut.

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