Although attempts to ban books have been an issue for years at school board and library meetings across the United States, 2021 has seen the highest level of book-related challenges in a very long time. Perhaps it’s no surprise that most of the banned books of 2021 are by or about black and LGBTQ+ people.
the American Library Association has been tracking book challenges for 20 years and has now compiled a list of titles that have become the target of challenges both by parents and by conservative politicians, who cast them as a matter of parental choice.
The majority of titles we can find on the banned books list contain LGBTQ+ or black themes, and efforts to ban them have been fueled by the current political environment in many US states. In fact, LGBTQ+ issues in schools have come under increasing attack from conservative politicians, such as in Florida with the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
Director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, Deborah Caldwell-Stone, said what we are witnessing today is “an unprecedented campaign to remove books from school libraries but also from public libraries that deal with the lives and experiences of people from marginalized groups”. communities”.
In this article, you can find a list of the books that received the most challenges in 2021. Go read them all!
This book is gay by Juno Dawson
This is THE instruction manual on all things queer for young adults. With its candid and funny prose, this book answers all questions about sexuality and gender identity.
Its LGBTQ+ material and themes were the reason the book was challenged and because it “provides sex education”.
Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
This is an autobiographical comic in which author Maia Kobabe, who uses the pronouns e/em/eir, recounts a journey of self-discovery. It’s also a touching guide to what it means to be non-binary and asexual, featuring a candid discussion of gender fluidity.
Most of the challenges in this book cite its references to masturbation and graphic illustrations of LGBTQ+ sexual experiences, but for many, including the author, they actually stem from the book’s discussion of gender identity.
lawn boy by Jonathan Evison
In this book, Evison tells the story of a young man searching for a way to realize the American dream. It is a book about social class distinctions and cultural discrimination.
The campaign to ban this book, which resulted in the author receiving real death threats, focused on a scene that depicts a sexual encounter between two boys.
Not all boys are blue by George M. Johnson
LGBTQ+ activist and journalist George M. Johnson has put together this series of personal essays that explore his childhood, teenage and college years and the challenges he faced as a black queer boy in America.
The book contains scenes depicting oral and anal sex, as well as sexual assault, which were cited as reasons for banning this book.
out of darkness by Ashley Hope Perez
Out of Darkness is a historical novel for young adults that chronicles the love story between a Mexican-American girl and an African-American boy in the 1930s and tells the facts of the New London school explosion in 1937 (Texas).
The novel was among the banned books because some parents complained about a scene in which teenagers make sexual and racist comments about a Mexican-American girl. The author responded to these complaints by saying that the book deals with racism and sexual abuse, which is the context in which this scene was included.
Beyond the magenta by Susan Kuklin
Author Susan Kuklin interviewed six transgender young adults and created this book to describe their journey to recognizing their gender identity.
It has been challenged due to its LGBTQ+ content and some sexually explicit sections.
The hate you give by Angie Thomas
This bestselling novel has helped spark conversations about police brutality and violence, featuring a young girl who witnesses the murder of her best friend at the hands of a police officer.
He has been criticized for his so-called ‘anti-police’ agenda and what critics say is blasphemy.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
This illustrated book, with drawings by Ellen Forney, chronicles the adolescence of a Native American boy as he tries to escape the life he seems destined to live.
It was targeted, according to the library association, for sexual references, profanity and the use of derogatory terms.
Me and Earl and the dying girl by Jesse Andrews
This is a fictional book that follows the high school adventures of protagonist Greg Gaines and his friends Earl and Rachel, a girl who is dying of cancer.
Challenges to this book arose because parts of the narrative were seen as demeaning to women and too sexually explicit.
The bluest eye by Toni Morrison
The Bluest Eye is the story of a young African American girl growing up in the United States in the years following the Great Depression.
It ended up on the banned books list for its depiction of child abuse and sexual content.
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