June is Rainbow Book Month, presented by the ALA Rainbow Round Table. Their work is especially important in its 50th year, with censorship of Rainbow library books, programs, and displays on the rise. Since the OIF began tracking Display Challenges in December 2016, 40 of the 54 reported challenges are for LGBT content (74%). Many libraries have policies for book challenges but displays are not always specifically written in.
I’m relieved that Juan Vidal is not a librarian. The condescending and short-sighted tone of his article “Your Bookshelf May Be Part of the Problem” is so anathema to librarianship and the joy of reading it made my face contort.
The problem is not corporate censorship, it’s the idea that we can find all the reliable information we need on the internet with no guidelines or knowledge how to vet information or discriminate fact from fraud. Censorship becomes an issue when government entities start to take part – and this is why eliminating censorship within the construct of libraries is so important.
Reporters without Borders recently released the 2020 World Press Freedom Index, which attempts to measure press freedoms worldwide. This year, they ranked the United States 45th out of 180 countries; up 3 spots from 48th in 2019.
Eight of the Top Ten Most Challenged Books in 2019 featured diverse content related to sexuality. Read an interview with Jed Dearybuy, educator and LGBTQ+ advocate in South Carolina, who is working to build more accepting, equitable, and safe educational environments for all students.
Child sex abuse is a serious problem but how do we talk to kids about it? How do we give children the tools and language to understand how to reach out if they are victims or if they know someone who is? There is no easy answer. One way that author Tony Abbot chose was the route of storytelling. Sharing stories can provide both a mirror and a window.
It’s hard to see how frequently parents have a problem with certain books because of their relationship to the female body. I feel disheartened when I see these types of concerns on such a regular basis – not just in the form of requests for removal, but in daily, casual conversations. It’s a challenge but luckily I also notice that these important discussions about double standards, body image and dangers of body shaming are happening more frequently.
Of the 377 challenges reported in 2019, there were 229 separate authors included. In this post I would like to highlight a couple of our “Banned Freshmen:” Jarrett J. Krosoczka and Meredith Russo.
In 2019, we saw that censorship is alive and well in the U.S. for 2.2 million incarcerated adults. Prison censorship’s arbitrary nature and content-neutral bans violate human rights and restrict resources for those who need them the most.
Literature can provide youth and their teachers with meaningful tools for coping, discussing, and understanding. Library professionals have a duty to protect that access.