Book banning across the country has surged in recent years.
Utah is just one of the latest states to pass bills on banning books in public schools that have sexual themes or explicit language. According to The American Library Association, books being challenged or banned are up about 60% over the last year.
Many of these banned books deal with LGBTQIA+ characters or characters dealing with racism. In November 2021, Canyons School District pulled nine titles from their school shelves. These titles included:
- The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
- L8R G8R, by Lauren Myracle
- Beyond Magenta, by Susan Kuklin
- Out of Darkness, by Ashley Hope Perez
- Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov
- The Opposite of Innocent, by Sonya Sones
- Lawn Boy, by Jonathan Evison
- Gender Queer, by Maia Kobabe
- Monday’s Not Coming, by Tiffany Jackson
Many groups such as Utah Parents United say they target these books not because of the LGBTQ+ characters and themes, but because of the “sexually explicit conduct” and “sexual conduct” that is found in these books.
As of 2021, these were the most banned or challenged books across the country according to The American Library Association (ALA).
- Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
Reasons: Banned, challenged, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, and because it was considered to have sexually explicit images
- Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison
Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to be sexually explicit
- All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content, profanity, and because it was considered to be sexually explicit
- Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez
Reasons: Banned, challenged, and restricted for depictions of abuse and because it was considered to be sexually explicit
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, violence, and because it was thought to promote an anti-police message and indoctrination of a social agenda
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references and use of a derogatory term
- Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
Reasons: Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and degrading to women
- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Banned and challenged because it depicts child sexual abuse and was considered sexually explicit
- This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson
Reasons: Banned, challenged, relocated, and restricted for providing sexual education and LGBTQIA+ content.
- Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin
Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to be sexually explicit.
While many groups are trying to get these books banned, many groups and individuals see book banning as a violation of freedom of speech.
According to the ALA, “Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.”
Each state is left to navigate the line between censorship and free speech.