Reviews | The effort to ban books in schools is not American | Opinion









The political landscape in the United States is worrying. A pandemic has turned partisan, pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol building, believing that the former president had “stolen” election lies and that basic rights – such as access to a safe abortion – are withdrawn from people at national and local levels. But nothing keeps me awake at night more than a GOP-led effort to ban books in schools, especially those that deal with race, sexuality, and gender identity.

In Texas, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott joined a string of statewide officials pushing to remove books he called “pornography” in a letter sent to Dr Dan Troxell, executive director of the Texas Association of Schools Boards.

Texas Republican State Representative Matt Krause also sent a letter to the Texas Education Agency in late October to ask if schools in the state had any of the 850 books listed on a 16-page spreadsheet. According to an analysis of Book Riot, the books dealt with human rights, sex education and LGBTQ + people.

One of the books on the list was “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe. Another Texas lawmaker, Jeff Cason, also took issue with the book, calling it “sexually explicit” in a declaration calling on Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton to open an investigation. According to CNN, the book, which has already been banned in school districts across the country, is a coming-of-age memoir on gender and sexuality.

Author Maia Kobabe explained in a Washington Post Editorial that “one of the charges against the book was that it was promoting pedophilia – based on a single panel depicting an erotic ancient Greek vase.” Others simply called it pornography, a common accusation against work on queer sexuality themes. “

“In high school, I had met a number of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people, but I didn’t meet any trans or non-binary person until I was in high school. The only place I had access to information and stories about transgender people was in the media, mainly in books, ”Kobabe added, stressing the need to keep such literature in schools.

The GOP-led effort has gone as far as some officials calling for “burning” the books.

“I think we should throw these books in the fire” noted Rabih Abuismail, Board Member for Spotsylvania County, Virginia. One of his colleagues, Kirk Twigg, agreed, saying he wanted to “see the books before we burn them so that we can identify within our community that we are eradicating these bad things.”

What are these “bad things?” The book that sparked debate in Spotsylvania County was “33 Snowfish” by Adam Rapp. The book deals with mature topics – like sexual abuse, prostitution, and drug addiction – but is still recommended for ages 15 and up. It also received the award for best young adult book by the American Library Association.

Yet Abuismail would go on to say that public schools “would rather our children read gay pornography than talk about Christ.”

I can’t think of anything more anti-American than the censorship we see in schools right now. Books never divided anyone – like the American Library Association Forbidden Books Week the theme was: “Books unite us. Censorship divides us. “



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