More than 1,000 books have been banned in schools across the country over the past year, and a significant number of them were related to race and the LGBTQ community.
A new report Pen America, released Thursday by literary and free expression group, tracked book restrictions in public schools across the country from July 2021 to March this year. One Index by Group Counted 1,586 Book Bans Targeting 1,145 books in dozens of school districts in 26 states.
comes between reports Republican-led efforts to ban books from school libraries around the nation.
PEN America denounced the sanctions, noting an “alarming spike in censorship,” which is “unique in its intensity and frequency and represents a serious threat to free expression and the First Amendment rights of students.”
The books were banned by 86 school districts representing 2,899 schools with more than 2 million enrolled students.
State by state, Texas has the most school book bans (713), followed by Pennsylvania (456), Florida (204), Oklahoma (43), Kansas (30) and Tennessee (16).
The 467 banned books (or 41% of all banned books) had main characters or major secondary characters who were people of color.
247 banned books (22%) directly addressed race or racism.
379 banned books (33%) addressed LGBTQ issues or contained main or secondary characters who were LGBTQ.
The 42 banned books were children’s books, including biographies of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Ruby Bridges, Cesar Chavez, Sonia Sotomayor, Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai.
Jonathan Friedman, director of Penn America’s Free Expression and Education Program and lead author of the report, said, “Book challenges in American schools are nothing new, but this type of data has never been reconciled and the results clearly are shocking. are the ones.” release.
Friedman noted that the recent school book banning books often targeted about racial and LGBTQ identities, and challenges books by non-white male authors “at the highest rates we’ve ever seen.”
“We are seeing the erasure of themes that represent recent progress towards inclusion,” he said.
The top three most banned books, according to the index, are about the LGBTQ community: “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe is banned in 30 districts; “All Boys Are Not Blue” by George M. Johnson is banned in 21 districts; And “Lawn Boy” by Jonathan Evison is banned in 16 districts. “Out of Darkness,” a novel by Ashley Hope Perez about the relationship between a black teenage boy and a Mexican American girl in 1930s Texas, is also banned in 16 districts. And “The Bluest Eye,” a book about racism in the 1940s by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, is the fifth most banned book banned in 12 districts.
Reports say books are banned in public schools throughout American historywidth of Such efforts have “rapidly expanded”. In the past year, both in the number of banned books and in “intense focus on books related to communities of color and LGBTQ+ subjects.”
Books have been removed from school libraries and classrooms as a result of challenges in response to laws passed by parents, administrators and board members, and even Republican legislators.
The recent push to ban some books stems from Republican-led bills seeking to stop students from learning about white supremacy and racism on the pretext of purge so-called “critical race theory” from classrooms.
Although such laws do not explicitly mention critical race theory – a college-level academic discipline focused on how racism is embedded in the country’s legal, political and social institutions – they are all written with similar language meant to instruct about racism, privilege and white supremacy .