The growing conservative trend aiming to prosecute and punish educators and librarians for having materials that include ideas about racism, sex, and sexuality is in direct oppostition to the cause of “liberty” – a term often used by these same groups to justify their actions.
Despite Polacco’s talent to weave and illustrate a story, her books are not always well received. During a school visit, students read Polacco essays entitled “My Family”. One little girl was told her family, which included two mothers and adopted siblings, was not a “real family”. Outraged, Polacco went home that day and wrote In Our Mothers’ House, a story that shares the love and acceptance of a family of two mothers and adopted children of various ethnicities.
In the midst of the recognition of Pride Month, a campaign called “Hide the Pride” is threatening to hide LGBTQIA+ library materials from others in the community that may want to access them. Started by an organization called CatholicVote, the initiative invites people to check out all the books from their library’s Pride Month display, under the guise of protecting children from being exposed to ideas of sexuality and gender identity and expression.
The Office for Intellectual Freedom has received multiple reports over the last two days about individuals checking out all the books from a library’s PRIDE Month display to prevent other readers viewing or reading the books. This censorship tactic is being promoted by a fringe Catholic political advocacy group, CatholicVote.
Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer is 2021’s most challenged graphic novel. Kobabe wants eir memoir to remain in our libraries. Youth, our readers, want Gender Queer to remain in our libraries. In that spirit, the following resources were curated to assist librarians addressing challenges to Gender Queer.
Issues relating to intellectual freedom continue to dominate news stories, including debates on critical race theory, LGTBQ materials, academic freedom, and broadband access. In the past several months various state governments have passed bills targeting school curriculum. Fueled by misinterpretations of Critical Race Theory, this has led to numerous attempts to censor or ban books that discuss race. Books discussing gender and sexuality, mainly those with LGBTQ themes, have also been targeted such as when residents in Wyoming attempted to file criminal charges against library staff. Academic freedom of faculty on college campuses are also under fire, whether for curriculum concerns (related to aforementioned bills targeting Critical Race Theory) or for providing expertise outside their capacity as an educator. Broadband access continues to be an issue as many Americans continue to rely on the internet for work, education, or various other essential functions.
The last year, especially the last few months, has seen a dramatic increase in book challenges nationwide. This is alarming, as it should be; however, the timing of such an organized push repeats history with the same frequency as social challenges and advancements. The current wave of attempted censorship is a modern remake of a 1980s special that should have been left in the past.
In late September, the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office in Gillette, Wyoming received a report alleging criminal activity at the Campbell County Public Library. Community members believed that the library board and library director committed a crime by disseminating obscene material. This is based on Wyoming Statute 6-2-318, which states “anyone who has reached the age of majority and who solicits, procures or knowingly encourages anyone less than the age of fourteen years, or a person purported to be less than the age of fourteen years, to engage in sexual intrusion.” Violation of this law would result in a felony conviction and a maximum five-year sentence. The alleged illegal act was having books in the library’s young adult and children’s section that discussed reproduction, sex, and LGBTQIA issues.
Since its creation in 2015, Drag Queen Storytime or Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH), as the official organization calls it, has gained as much negative attention as it has positive among library patrons and community members.. In 2019, 30 challenges were reported to the OIF for Drag Queen Storytimes and other Pride related events. But there are many Drag Queen Storytime fans and advocates out there as well, with LGBT-friendly churches stepping in to host events when libraries no longer can, to people coming to these events to show their love and support in the face of angry protesters. And while these programs tend to draw in big crowds because they are fun, they also have educational benefits as well.
The inaugural Social Media Safety Index report from GLAAD, when combined with recent anti-LGBTQ+ education legislation, reveals that LGBTQ+ mis/disinformation has created public health and safety issues based on an unsound free speech argument.