September 30, 2022

‘We’re seeing a relaunch of an old story’: Exploring the movement to ban books with LGBTQ characters

4 min read


The ban on the book continues.

Already, efforts to censor books in K-12 schools, universities and public libraries are on the rise this year. Lunar eclipse 2021 record countThe American Library Association said Friday. ALA listed 681 attempts between January 1 and August 31. The number in 2021 was 729.
(Notably, the aforementioned groups also target titles that deal with race and racism, including Toni Morrison’s debut novel, “blue eye“)
A CNN analysis this year of data collected by the American Civil Liberties Union found that as of July 1, Dozens of lawmakers from mostly Republican-controlled states At least 162 anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced — a record — that would have restricted classroom instruction about LGBTQ-related topics and, among other things, transgender athletes in school sports. Participation will be banned.
To further parse the campaign against books telling LGBTQ stories, I spoke to them. Anthony Michael Cress, a law professor at Georgia State University whose interests include civil rights and discrimination. During our conversation, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity, we talked about how today’s efforts to ban the book fit into America’s long history of marginalizing certain groups and In the long run, it can harm the youth.

What do you think about the ongoing efforts to limit books with LGBTQ protagonists or themes?

I think we’re seeing a resurgence of an old story, which is sexual minorities.”Groomers“And predatory and that sexual orientation and gender identity are inherently sexual.

That story is being repackaged, but it’s also being weaponized in a way that I think is different now.

In the 1990s, for example, these narratives and themes were widely used to intimidate people into rejecting LGBTQ rights and nondiscrimination laws in particular. One thing that’s different now is that, with social media being so popular and the different ways we can communicate with each other, we’re not necessarily looking at a broad accusation against the entire LGBTQ community. It’s an accusation that’s aimed squarely at individuals — bringing out a greater range of hatred in people in a way that I don’t think we’ve really seen before.

So, you can be a teacher in a small town in Virginia or in a big city like Chicago or Atlanta and all of a sudden you have an account with a million followers targeting you and saying that you’re the one. Are things you reasonably are not.

Can you give me more past examples of this kind of anti-LGBTQ animus? I would argue that there are sensational echoes between the 1970s and today, for example.

In the 1970s in particular, there was a large movement by social conservatives to keep homosexuals and gay teachers out of classrooms. There was one Major initiative at the state level in California. Of course there was. Anita Bryant in Florida.

The animosity that drove these campaigns, We need to keep gays and lesbians out of classrooms because they are an inherent danger to our children. They are hunters. They are recruiting.

In many respects, what is happening now is not a new invention.

In important ways, we can detect Reaction kinetics, Okay fine? people are Mobilizing against hard-won LGBTQ equality.
In recent years there has been a huge movement to embrace LGBTQ rights. In 2015, the US Supreme Court granted us same-sex marriage. Obergefell. There was National pushback Against anti-transgender legislation in North Carolina in 2016. There are also cultural dimensions. “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Goes Mainstream — Popularity grew beyond LGBTQ communities..

When minority groups and those challenging the status quo gain a foothold, there are often voices of opposition to the progress. I think we’re seeing those dynamics now.

What concerns do you have about how banning books might affect young people?

Well, tolerance is something we usually learn in our early school years. We reflect on who we are by engaging with the world, and we learn from others. Therefore, suppressing a particular point of view or suppressing a particular group identity inhibits this natural educational process.

As books continue to be banned, literary stars are promoting libraries and literacy.

Often throughout American history, schools have been very controversial places. People resisted segregation in public schools because they feared that children in integrated schools would learn that people had more similarities than differences and then friendships and marriages would destabilize the social order.

I think we’re seeing another iteration of that now. The fear is that if children grow up seeing that sexuality or gender expression exists on a spectrum and that there is nothing wrong with it, then we will have a society that accepts it. Therefore, schools become the first line of defense because of how informative the early years are not only for children’s thinking but also for the evolution of society.



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