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Attempts to ban books accelerate and deepen division

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Attempts to ban books across the country have accelerated at an unprecedented rate since tracking began more than 20 years ago, according to a new report from the American Library Association.

So far, the group has found attempts to ban or limit access to 1,651 different titles in 2022. The group has grown from his challenge to 1,597 books in 2021. It’s the year with the most complaints since the group began documenting the book challenge decades ago.

Efforts to ban books have grown rapidly in number and over the past two years have become more organized, divisive and bitter, dividing communities, causing bitter rifts in school and library boards, and spreading through social media and political campaigns. It spreads all over the country.

Public libraries are threatened by politicians and community members who have lost money for refusing to remove books. Members of the extremist right-wing group Proud Boys attended a school board meeting in Illinois. Access to books was on the agenda at the conference, and a drag queen story hour was held in California. Librarians have been accused of promoting pedophilia. In a recent analysis, the Library Association cited his 27 instances of police reports filed against library staff over the contents of bookshelves.

“This represents an escalation, and a real fear that at some point librarians will be arrested for offering books on unpopular, constitutionally protected topics.” Director of the Intellectual Freedom Bureau of the Library Association. “They are being threatened with prosecution, attacked on social media, and harassed for simply doing their job trying to meet the information needs of their communities.”

Book disputes, defined in the report as “a deliberate attempt to remove or limit access to library resources or programs,” can be made through written complaints, complaint forms submitted to the library, or published on social media. The organization said it could be a request for deletion that has been made. In the past, complaints tended to focus on his one book, but the majority of 2021 book challenges were for multiple titles, the library organization said.

Efforts have long come from both sides of the political spectrum. This report highlights a challenge to the “absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian” written by Sherman Alexy. This includes one made in a left-leaning New York City suburb over concerns about offensive racial language.

However, the report highlights the role that conservative politicians and politicians have played in the escalation of the issue. Conservative groups like Moms for Liberty, which is leading efforts to remove books it deems inappropriate from school libraries, say the book challenge is a matter of parental choice.

Parents should be able to pick and choose the books their children are reading and assess whether they go against their values.

But by promoting the removal of these books from libraries, free speech groups and many librarians are trampling on the rights of others who want their parents to make them available. said that Deletions, they argue, could be particularly detrimental to young people who see themselves reflected in books.

“Young people are going through these experiences and are hungry for information,” Caldwell Stone said. “Removing those books is a denial of educational opportunities, an act of erasure, and a very harsh message that you don’t belong here, your story doesn’t belong here.”

The Library Group, a non-profit organization that promotes libraries and library education, defines itself as nonpartisan.

Many of the challenges are directly related to conservative movement issues, such as how to teach children about racial inequality, James LaRue, former director of the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom, wrote in the report. .

According to the association, books focusing on LGBTQ and Black characters are the most frequently targeted, with Maia Kobabe’s “Gender Queer” being the most frequently challenged book in the country. His first graphic novel, this book is about coming out as non-binary. Contains depictions of sexual experiences, masturbation, and menstrual blood.

The report also details how recent efforts to remove the books have become radical and extreme.

In a Washington school district, a parent filed a police report, accusing school officials of distributing “graphic porn” because “gender queer” was available in the library.

A community member who requested the removal of LGBTQ-themed books and books about characters from the Gillette, Wyoming public library filed a criminal report with the sheriff’s office, accusing library staff of providing obscene material. Did. (There was no charge.)

In Tyler, Texas, Jonathan Evison’s novel “Lone Boy” was banned after parents complained about the graphic depiction of sex in the book, and 120 “questionable books” were banned. included in the list.

Conservative politicians and elected officials running for public office are seizing on the topic. In Virginia and Texas, candidates have campaigned on the idea that parents should have more say in the books their children have access to.

Republican delegates in Virginia urged Barnes & Co. to block the sale of two books by Sarah J. Maas, Court of Fog and Fury and Gender Queer, to minors. sued Noble. A circuit court judge dismissed the attempt last month.

As the midterm elections draw nearer, the challenge of the book and the conflicts surrounding it only escalate.