Attempted book bans surged in 2022 as leaders target sexual content and critical race theory: Report

Virginia Books Lawsuit
FILE – Amanda Darrow, director of youth, family and education programs at the Utah Pride Center, poses with books that have been the subject of complaints from parents in recent weeks on Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021, in Salt Lake City. A judge in Virginia dismissed a lawsuit Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022, that sought to declare two books as obscene for children and to restrict their distribution to minors, including by booksellers and libraries. The books in question were “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by Maia Kobabe and “A Court of Mist and Fury” by Sarah J. Maas. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer) Rick Bowmer/AP

Attempted book bans surged in 2022 as leaders target sexual content and critical race theory: Report

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Attempts to restrict access to certain books increased in 2022, particularly those featuring LGBT and racial themes. This comes as lawmakers across the country have made efforts to prevent young children from being exposed to graphic sexual content and critical race theory in schools.

According to a new report from the American Library Association, the number of materials that restrictions were sought for in 2022 nearly doubled from 2021. It revealed that there were 1,269 requests made to have resources censored in 2022, compared to just 729 requests the year prior. Many of the requests were against multiple titles.

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ALA’s Director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom Deborah Caldwell-Stone claimed that people who challenge these books and resources are not well-intentioned.

“Their aim is to suppress the voices of those traditionally excluded from our nation’s conversations, such as people in the LGBTQIA+ community or people of color,” she said.

“Overwhelmingly, we’re seeing these challenges come from organized censorship groups that target local library board meetings to demand removal of a long list of books they share on social media,” Caldwell-Stone explained.

ALA reported that 2,571 unique books and resources were challenged, 38% more than the 1,858 unique titles it says were challenged in 2021.

“The vast majority were written by or about members of the LGBTQIA+ community and people of color,” according to the organization.

Several books have recently been scrutinized as books with sexual, racial, and LGBT themes are increasingly being discovered in classrooms and libraries across the country, where young children have access to and are exposed to them.

One book in particular, Gender Queer, was named the most banned and challenged book of 2021. The graphic novel and memoir features illustrations of explicit sexual activity. It has been found in schools throughout the United States.

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Recently, Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R-FL) office revealed that the book, along with two others, It’s Perfectly Normal and Let’s Talk About It, have been found in several schools in Florida counties.

It’s Perfectly Normal is a children’s book about “changing Bodies, growing up, sex, and sexual health,” which is intended for ages 10 and up. Meanwhile, Let’s Talk About It is a graphic novel branded as “the teen’s guide to sex, relationships, and being a human.”

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