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Library books are still being censored over LGBT+ content on a horrifying scale. Oh, and Harry Potter

Nick Duffy September 28, 2020
Beyond Magenta and And Tango Makes Three are on the banned books list

Beyond Magenta and And Tango Makes Three are on the banned books list

Books about LGBT+ people continue to dominate the list of the most-banned and challenged works in US libraries.

The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom collates an annual list of the books that face the most censorship attempts, celebrating them for Banned Books Week (27 September – 3 October).

Like clockwork on an annual basis, the list shows time-and-again that LGBT+ content and works by queer authors face relentless, disproportionate attacks and censorship attempts.

LGBT+ books dominate the list of banned books.

The list for 2019 shows that the censorship faced by LGBT+ books becomes even more notable – with eight of the top ten books censored for addressing LGBT+ themes.

Books are commonly challenged for their LGBT+ content and for having transgender characters
Books are commonly challenged for their LGBT+ content and for having transgender characters

Topping the list is the novel George by Alex Gino, which was “challenged, banned, restricted, and hidden” in libraries across the country because it features a transgender character.

The second-placed book, Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin, is based on interviews with six transgender young adults. In third place is A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss, which features a gay rabbit – and was produced for John Oliver’s topical TV show Last Week Tonight.

Also making the list are And Tango Makes Three, a picture book which tells the real-life story of a same-sex penguin couple, gay fairytale Prince & Knight, trans teen Jazz Jennings’ book I Am Jazz, Raina Telgemeier’s queer graphic novel Drama, and inclusive sex education resource Sex is a Funny Word.

The list for 2019 is dominated by LGBT+ content
The list for 2019 is dominated by LGBT+ content

The Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 377 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services in 2019, targeting 566 books.

The body also notes 53 occasions across 27 states where Drag Queen Story Time events were challenged through “hate mail, petitions, social media campaigns, death threats and lawsuits”.

Drag Queen Story Hour events were challenged at libraries in 27 states
Drag Queen Story Hour events were challenged at libraries in 27 states

In addition to the annual list, the ALA has collated an end-of-decade list of the top 100 most commonly banned and challenged books between 2010 and 2019.

American Library Association finds LGBT+ works are some of the most censored in a decade

Around one in five books on the list cover LGBT+ themes, with George, And Tango Makes Three and Drama all landing inside the top ten.

A release says: “OIF has been documenting attempts to ban books in libraries and schools since 1990. OIF compiled this list of the most banned and challenged books from 2010-2019 by reviewing both the public and confidential censorship reports it received.

“This list draws attention to literary censorship but only provides a snapshot of book challenges. About 82-97 per cent of challenges remain unreported, estimates OIF, which compared results from several independent studies of third-party FOIA requests documenting school and library book censorship with the information in its database.

“This year’s Banned Books Week theme is Censorship is a Dead End. Find Your Freedom to Read.

“Banned Books Week is largely going virtual, as libraries, bookstores, universities, and organisations are hosting more online programs. The general public is also welcome to participate in a series of virtual activities.”

More: A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, american library association, and tango makes three, banned books, Banned Books Week, Beyond Magenta, LGBT, LGBT books, library

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