Banned Books Uncensored: Free Webinar on Defending Titles with LGBTQIA+ Content

General Interest

The most cited reason for challenging library materials and services is because of LGBTQIA+ content. How can library workers challenge conservative groups’ framing of LGBTQIA+ books as “harmful to minors” or sexually explicit, and highlight these titles as inclusive stories of acceptance? Where can library workers find resources and support when facing attempts to censor LGBTQIA+ titles?

In the free webinar “Banned Books Uncensored: LGBTQIA+ Stories and Gender Identity” next Wednesday, GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis and banned illustrator Stevie Lewis (Prince & Knight) will be joined by censorship experts (Office for Intellectual Freedom Director Deborah Caldwell-Stone and associate professor Shannon Oltmann) and library directors who have defended LGBTQIA+ titles (Stephanie Beverage and Tom Taylor) for a can’t-miss conversation that explores this censorship issue.

Library workers and educators will come out of the webinar armed with knowledge about how to respond to public attempts to remove LGBTQIA+ titles, as well as talking points on the importance of having inclusive stories on library shelves. Moderated by Office for Intellectual Freedom Kristin Pekoll, the webinar will also review where to find support when censorship occurs and legislation around “parental oversight boards.”

This webinar is part of the Banned Books Uncensored webinar series. The series takes a deep dive into the frequently cited reasons why books are challenged to prepare library workers for future censorship attempts.

Reserve your spot for “Banned Books Uncensored: LGBTQIA+ Stories & Gender Identity” on Wednesday, May 20, at 3 p.m. Central, and learn more about the speakers below. 

Sarah Kate Ellis

Sarah Kate Ellis is the President and CEO of GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization. Ellis leads GLAAD’s advocacy to accelerate acceptance of the LGBTQ community through compelling and effective campaigns and programs. Most recently, she spoke on LGBTQ issues at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos. Prior to GLAAD, Ellis was an award-winning media executive who grew and transformed brands including Real Simple.

Stevie Lewis

Stevie Lewis has been living on the road in a van (she mostly built out herself!) for the past 3 years, furthering her passion art and the outdoors. Striving to live simply and tread lightly on the earth, she gathers inspiration from a variety of places, and enjoys rock climbing, hiking, and mountain biking in her spare time.  After working for several years at DreamWorks Animation Studios, she now illustrates children’s books and creates art based on her travels. Her latest illustrated work includes Prince & Knight by Daniel Haack, Lost in the Library by Josh Funk, the Finding Serendipity series by Angelica Banks, SUN! One in a Billion by Stacy McAnulty, and the upcoming Moon! Earth’s Best Friend.

Deborah Caldwell-Stone

Deborah Caldwell-Stone is Director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom and Executive Director of the Freedom to Read Foundation. She is a recovering attorney and former appellate litigator who works closely with librarians, library trustees and educators on a wide range of intellectual freedom and privacy issues, including censorship of library resources, book challenges, internet filtering, meeting room policies, government surveillance, and the impact of new technologies on library patrons’ privacy and confidentiality. She has served on the faculty of the ALA-sponsored Lawyers for Libraries and Law for Librarians workshops and speaks frequently to librarians and library organizations around the country about intellectual freedom and privacy in libraries. She is a contributor to the 9th edition of the Intellectual Freedom Manual and has contributed articles on law, policy, and intellectual freedom to American Libraries and other publications.

Shannon M. Oltmann

Shannon M. Oltmann is an Associate Professor in the School of Information Science at the University of Kentucky. She obtained her Ph.D. from Indiana University. Her research interests include information ethics, censorship, intellectual freedom, information policy, public libraries, privacy, and qualitative research methods. Oltmann is the Editor of the Journal of Intellectual Freedom and Privacy and on the Editorial Board for Library Quarterly. She recently published a book, Practicing Intellectual Freedom in Libraries. She has presented her research at academic conferences such as the Information Ethics Roundtable, the Annual Conference of the Association for Information Science & Technology, the iConference, and the International Congress on Qualitative Inquiry. Her work has been published in the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Library Quarterly, Public Libraries Quarterly, Collection Management, Libri, and Library and Information Science Research.

Stephanie Beverage

Stephanie Beverage is the Director of Library Services for the City of Huntington Beach, California – Surf City, USA. Stephanie has been in Library Administration for over 20 years, working in public libraries all across Southern California. She is an active member of ALA and PLA, and is the current Chair of the PLA Advocacy and Strategic Partnerships Committee. She loves wine, cats, college football and her husband John who is an avid 3D printer.

Tom Taylor

Tom Taylor is director of the Andover Kansas Public Library.  Previously Taylor was a consultant at the South Central Kansas Library System. He has also worked at public and academic libraries in Kansas and Florida. Taylor holds a MLIS from the University of South Florida. He is a past president of Wichita Area Library Association and the Rotary Club of Andover. Taylor lives in Wichita with his two sons.

Kristin Pekoll

Kristin Pekoll (moderator) is the Assistant Director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom and is the first contact for support to librarians and educators who experience censorship. Kristin started her career as a youth librarian in West Bend, Wisconsin, where she experienced a book challenge to over 80 LGBTQIA+ YA books. She is the author of Beyond Banned Books: Defending Intellectual Freedom throughout Your Library, published by ALA Editions in 2019. In her free time she enjoys watching the Green Bay Packers and working on jigsaw puzzles. Find her on Twitter @kpekoll.

Ellie Diaz

Ellie Diaz is the Program Officer at the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. With her journalism background and fierce devotion to the freedom to read, Ellie organizes ALA’s Banned Books Week and several other projects within OIF.


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