The issue of Book Bans never seems to go away… and the current climate books by queer, gender non-conforming people, and individuals of color seem to be taking a hit.
Behind the Scenes: The Daily Show Behind the Scenes discusses Book Bans. (podcast) and on YouTube.
Some of the recent brouhaha attacks books by people of color, and seems to take particular offense at queer and sexual content, including some cases where concerned parents have run for school board and protested books at their local public library. (In some cases, the public libraries did not even own the book in question. In many, these parents downloaded a list of books from the internet to protest without reading or even encountering them.)
In addition to my role as publisher at Parisian Phoenix Publishing, a parent to a teen who just graduated from public high school, and an alumna of a private university holding a bachelors degree in English Language and Literature, I am a trustee at my local public library (on and off since approximately 2008, with the teenager’s father occupying the seat for six years in the middle).
I encourage you to watch some of this video or listen to some of the podcast and consider your own opinions. I have not read the young adult, Black/queer memoir in question here, nor have I read I Need a New Butt, which sounds magnificent. But I have read Toni Morrison’s Beloved, granted it was ages ago, and it irks me to no end that parents would claim that high school students can’t handle the explicit nature of the book.
The violence and sexuality in Morrison’s books are key to understanding the trauma and violence experienced by minorities, especially that of Black women, throughout American history at the hands of white men.
Now, I know (and probably you understand this too) that most of these claims, protests and lawsuits are not really about protecting our children or upholding values. They are really about making public political statements to divide the population and allow people with similar ideologies to band together and influence society.
Because seriously, and here’s my bottom line:
If parents are sincerely worried that a book about farts, or transgender identity, or rape, or extreme political or religious beliefs, would change your children to believe something or become something or do something that scares you, then your parenting is the problem.
As a mother, I have raised my daughter to think critically, to question but respect authority, and to follow her heart. I know based on my daily conversations with her where her convictions are, what her thoughts are on her own sexuality and society’s patriarchal heteronormative practices, and maybe she’s just stubborn, but no book is going to shift her beliefs.
So, parents, leave the books alone.