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American Library Association claims ‘censoring’ sexually explicit books targets LGBTQ+ community

The American Library Association (ALA), the oldest and largest library nonprofit in the world, claimed that the ‘censorship’ of sexually explicit books in children’s libraries is discriminatory to the LGBTQ+ community.

‘In looking at the titles of the most challenged books from last year, it’s obvious that the pressure groups are targeting books about LGBTQIA+ people and people of color,’ ALA President Emily Drabinski said in a statement Monday. ‘At ALA, we are fighting for the freedom to choose what you want to read. Shining a light on the harmful workings of these pressure groups is one of the actions we must take to protect our right to read.’

The group, which sponsors National Library Week in the second week of April every year, identified the top 10 most ‘banned’ books from children’s libraries — all of which were removed for purportedly some sort of sexually explicit content. The association also pioneered the Unite Against Book Bans’ Book Résumé. 

According to ALA, the number of books ‘targeted for censorship’ rose 65% in 2023 compared to the year before, making it the highest recorded number of bans, the group claims.

‘Gender Queer,’ by Maia Kobabe, ‘All Boys Aren’t Blue,’ by George M. Johnson, ‘This Book is Gay,’ by Juno Dawson and ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower,’ by Stephen Chbosky were among the list of most-banned books in public libraries last year for having LGBTQIA+ and sexually explicit content.

‘These are books that contain the ideas, the opinions, and the voices that censors want to silence – stories by and about LGBTQ+ persons and people of color,’ ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom director Deborah Caldwell-Stone said. ‘Each challenge, each demand to censor these books is an attack on our freedom to read, our right to live the life we choose, and an attack on libraries as community institutions that reflect the rich diversity of our nation.’

Last year, during a Senate Judiciary Hearing on book bans last year, Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., read an excerpt from Johnson’s ‘All Boys Aren’t Blue,’ which has been banned in more than two dozen school districts. 

‘I put some lube on and got him on his knees, and I began to slide into him from behind,’ Kennedy read from the book, which is a memoir of Johnson’s life. ‘I pulled out of him and kissed him while he masturbated.’

At the time, a college activist defended the book, arguing that if students cannot read books like ‘All Boys Aren’t Blue,’ then ‘they cannot learn about abuse.’

‘Gender Queer’ has also been banned in school districts in a few states, including Florida and Texas. The author previously told the Washington Post in an interview that she ‘originally wrote it for my parents, and then for older teens who were already asking these questions about themselves.’

‘I don’t recommend this book for kids!’ Kobabe told the outlet.

In July 2021, ALA adopted a new code of ethics built upon ‘racial and social justice’ ‘to foster cultural understanding by providing library professionals with a professional framework that supports equity, diversity, and inclusion.’ The association also has an advocacy arm that lobbies in Congress to advance ‘key policies’ and represents ‘the voice for libraries in Washington, D.C.’

Last year, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill making it the first state in the nation to outlaw book bans.

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