Report: LGBTQ content fueled book ban efforts in 2023

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The American Library Association released its annual list of the 10 most attacked libraries. books of 2023 on Monday, most of which were challenges due to their LGBTQ content.

Maia Kobabe’s “Gender Queer” topped the chart for the third year in a row. The graphic memoir, which chronicles the author’s experience with sexuality and gender from childhood to adulthood, came under fire for its LGBTQ content and claims that it is sexually explicit.

“At ALA we fight for the freedom to choose what you want to read,” he said to the President Emily Drabinski at the announcement. “Shedding light on the harmful workings of these pressure groups is one of the actions we must take to protect our right to read.”

In 2023, the ALA registered 4,240 unique titles that have been subject to removal or restriction in libraries and schools. It’s a record 65% increase from 2022, the highest totals recorded by the ALA since it began collecting data more than 20 years ago.

Jennie Pu, an ALA member and director of the Hoboken Public Library, told ABC News that “this list affirms the pattern we’re seeing, which is a small group of people who don’t want their stories told and the redirection of people historically underrepresented and marginalized voices.”

The Hoboken library system was declared a book sanctuary in 2023.

Across the country, the content of classrooms and libraries has been at the center of contentious debates among educators, librarians, parents and politicians. Conservative-led legislative efforts to restrict discussions and content that can be had in classrooms about race, gender, sex and sexual orientation have ignited a debate over the materials students and their families have access to.

Proponents of such legislation say these policies ensure that “inappropriate” content is removed from classrooms to protect children from “indoctrination,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott have said.

Politicized groups or individuals have been at the center of large swathes of book challenges across the country, sometimes demanding the censorship of multiple titles, often dozens or hundreds at a time. This helped fuel the rise of book challenges, according to the ALA.

The other most objective titles, in order of number of challenges, are:

2. “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” by George M. Johnson, for LGBTQ content and claims of explicit sexual content.

3. “This Book is Gay,” by Juno Dawson, for LGBTQ content, sex education, and sexually explicit claims.

4. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky, for LGBTQ content, rape, drugs, profanity, and sexually explicit claims.

5. “Flamer,” by Mike Curato, for LGBTQ content and sexually explicit claims.

6. “The Bluest Eye,” by Toni Morrison, for topics on rape, incest, DEI content, and sexually explicit claims.

7. “Tricks,” by Ellen Hopkins, for LGBTQ content, drug themes, rape, and sexually explicit claims, tied with “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” by Jesse Andrews, for sexually explicit claims.

9. “Let’s Talk About It,” by Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan, for LGBTQ content, sex education, and sexually explicit claims.

10. “Sold,” by Patricia McCormick, for sexually explicit claims and rape themes.

The ALA compiles its data from reports submitted to its Office for Intellectual Freedom by library professionals and news reports. However, the organization says the data is only a “snapshot” of book censorship attempts because it is not likely that all attempts will be reported to the ALA or covered by the press.

The latest report marks the start of the organization’s National Library Week.

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