When book banning started to heat up two years ago, many wondered how long until a library worker would be seriously hurt over defending the right to read. Now, we know it’s not going to be long at all.
Over the last month, several libraries have faced bomb and shooting threats as a direct result of the books housed in their collections. Books that were reviewed by professionals and deemed appropriate for those school and public libraries. Books that, of course, feature queer and/or BIPOC writers and characters who do not align with the views of those who believe that dialing in murder threats is an appropriate way to handle those who do not follow their radical right-wing Christian nationalist agenda.
The flood of threats in March are not the first threats. But they represent the most number of threats leveraged against library workers so far. And it should go without saying by now that this fight is not about the books. It’s about eradicating people, both those who are queer and/or people of color and those who choose to defend their rights to exist exactly as they are:
- Pictured above: the threat to shoot up the Lebanon Public Library in Indiana. This library was closed for nearly a week following the threat.
- A bomb threat called into Northwest Junior High (Iowa City, IA) over the book This Book Is Gay. Interesting that the article downplays the credibility of the threat but also mentions this was a nationwide coordinated effort. The district removed the book from shelves for review following the threat.
- But it wasn’t just once. That school had a second threat called in, too.
- A bomb threat called into the IndyReads program (Indianapolis, IN). While not focused on library workers specifically, this is worth including here because it put literacy advocates and booksellers in the line of danger.
- Hendersonville Public Library (TN) received several bomb threats from an individual in Connecticut related to the Kirk Cameron nonsense that happened there. Your god would be so embarrassed.
- Hilton Public Schools (New York) received a bomb threat over This Book Is Gay.
- Actually, that district had two bomb threats.
- Nelson Public Library in British Columbia, Canada, canceled their drag story time event over violent threats.
- While we’re abroad, there were death threats over a drag story time at the Mount Gambier Public Library in Australia.
- In Ireland, libraries are being warned to beef up security. If you’re thinking “okay, that’s not the U.S.,” it is the U.S. that is fueling this.
- Violent threats against a drag storytime outside an animal shelter in Louisville. This was one day before the shooting at a Christian School in Nashville.
Shove your thoughts and prayers. You need to show up and have your voice heard. This is unacceptable, it’s abhorrent, and it is going to end in bloodshed.
Which is exactly what the bigots want. They see this as their holy war and they themselves joyful warriors.
Book Ban Legislation Update
Take some time to catch up on the latest updates on book ban legislation making its way through various state legislatures.
Book Censorship News: April 7, 2023
- LGBTQ+ books removed from Llano Public Library (TX) must be returned to shelves.
- Meanwhile in Spotsylvania, Virginia, 14 books were pulled from shelves. The district’s superintendent is floating the idea of removing all school librarians now, claiming it’s a budgetary issue.
- Nine books have been pulled from Jefferson County Parish (LA) pending review. Hi, yes, this is a book ban.
- The school board in New Hanover County (NC) is being compared to Nazis and Marxists for…creating a diverse book review committee to evaluate challenged books.
- How ONE parent got all of the graphic novels removed from Owasso Public Schools (OK).
- Lucky was removed from Hernando County Schools (FL) but that was apparently not enough for the book crisis actors.
- A children’s biography about Harvey Milk and I Am Jazz were removed from Ogden Public Schools (UT). I guess the good news is that Julian Is a Mermaid will remain on shelves?
- Vero Beach High School (FL) removed the graphic novel adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank from shelves.
- “The item in question was a report Ganem asked the library staff to compile documenting every LGBTQ-themed book, every sex education book, and every book about Christianity present in the city library. According to Ganem, she wanted the public to see real statistics.” What a spectacular waste of time and taxpayer money continuing to go on in Fremont, Nebraska, where one bigot is trying to ruin the public library. All of this information is in the catalog.
- The municipal attorney of Anchorage, Alaska, is now making the decision over whether or not Let’s Talk About It can remain in the city’s school district.
- State Superintendent Ryan Walters in Oklahoma now has a list of over 100 books he deems pornographic that are in the public schools.
- Canby School District (OR) is being urged to update their collection policies so that a single complaint does not automatically lead to books being pulled which is, surprise, a current issue.
- An update on the nonsense in Siloam Springs (AR) at their public library.
- “Stark questions what will happen after the titles are reviewed. ‘No one wants to ban books. I’m totally for the free exchange of ideas,’ he said. But he wants there to be a rating system for books or a restricted area where they are only accessible to adults.” I absolutely love the “I don’t believe in banning books but I believe in restricting them” crowd. Why is the newspaper giving this right-wing pastor air space over the “book ban debates” in Louisiana? Just because you’re a bigot — and you say so yourself — doesn’t mean you get to determine that for others.
- The same paper in the same series gives a Livingston Parish parent room to talk about book restrictions in the public library, too.
- Hillsboro County Schools (FL) have removed This Book Is Gay from all of its middle schools.
- Three queer books are being reviewed at the Staples High School (CT). Note the reasons why the complainers wanted the books removed…and remember if you’re in a position to update your collection policies, you need to be more robust in what people need to do in order to file a complaint. These are unacceptable and it’s a waste of time and money for a political stunt. The good news is the books will not be banned.
- “Why do you want to protect these books?” one mother asked during this month’s meeting. “Why is it so important for you to keep them in the library? By choosing to not take them out, you’re choosing to keep them in.” I thought it was not about banning books? That it was about “parental rights?” That the opt-out form would allow that? Or are we seeing the lies right here in Chippewa Valley Schools (MI)?
- I’m paywalled from this story, but it sounds like several parents are complaining about books in Belding Area Schools (MI). Only wish we could see which ones and what the crisis actors are saying about those books.
- Perkiomen Valley High School students (PA) walked out over a proposed policy that would ban books like other districts across the state.
- Guess who has put in the most book challenges at the Perkiomen Valley High School above? Yes, it’s the school board president.
- “Anderson County Commissioner Anthony Allen of Oak Ridge [TN] presented the county mayor and county commissioners with packets on the 14 books — aimed at adults, young adults, and teens — that were given to him by local “researchers,” who reportedly found them in one or more of the four libraries.” This is at the public library. Guess where the book reviews are from? It’s the Moms for Liberty website!
- Here’s the lengthy report from a parent on why the Bible should be banned in Davis Schools (UT). Here’s the thing: as truthful as it is and as much as it shows how absurd the “parental rights” movement is, no books should be banned, not even the Bible.
- In Florida, they’re trying to ban Ron DeSantis’s book using his own logic. Again: funny, I guess, but missing the point.
- “A group of Ohio conservatives, including a number from Lorain and Medina counties, recently signed a letter to Ohio first lady Fran DeWine asking her and Gov. Mike DeWine to help them remove a book they consider pornographic from Ohio’s public school libraries.” It’s over Gender Queer.
- Gender Queer will not be banned in Australia, and now I really want to learn about this censor board that apparently exists in the country.
- New Castle, New York, just took a stand against book bans.
- A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo has been banned in Broward County, Florida, schools. Why? It violates the “parental rights” laws in the state. Okay!
- West Fargo, North Dakota, plans to fight the state’s proposed book ban bills were they to pass.
- Vaginas: An Important Book about Vulvas, Periods, Puberty and Sex! will remain on shelves in Westborough Public Library (MA), though it’ll be on a “higher shelf.” This is a book by a reproductive endocrinologist FOR middle schoolers…
- Good news in Orange County, Florida: when a book is challenged by a parent, it will remain on shelves throughout the review. Bad news: the superintendent can be the person who gets it yanked. So, still censorship with a different colored crayon.
- In Flagler County, Florida, Looking for Alaska will remain on shelves.
- But also in Flagler, a parent justifies Hitler’s book banning. I do appreciate the reporter’s commentary that the parent didn’t share where she found the information she shared.
- Brooke Reale writing some unhinged conspiracy nonsense to her local paper in North Carolina. Remember, if you’re not voting, speaking, or writing, these are the folks doing it for you.
- “Days after a Plano ISD student overdosed on fentanyl, Ortega said the real drug is “pornography” in Plano ISD’s books.” They are un-effing-hinged.
- You Know, Sex is under fire at the Conway Public Library (AR).
- Union County Public Schools (NC) are trying to implement new policy about curriculum that would essentially eliminate any queer content. The read on this policy is so simultaneously broad and narrow that it is meaningless.
- “Three books that have been called into question, The Stonewall Riots by Gale Pitman, In Deeper Waters by F.T. Lukens, and This is Our Rainbow edited by Katherine Locke and Nicole Melleby. The books, written for readers ranging from 3rd grade on up, present LGBTQ representation and stories based on actual events. “I looked the books up. I will never, ever be able to get that out of my mind. I cannot believe those type of books and that type of reading is made public to the children of any age,” said Wasilla parent Terri Lyons during the public comments.” This is a school book fair in Alaska. MatSu has a history here.
- YES! More libraries need to update their policies on book challenges to do this (Minnesota). “The form used to create an official challenge to a book or material’s status states the cost incurred by the district for each challenge process is approximately $3,000. This covers the costs of acquiring copies of the material for each committee member’s review, time spent reading and researching the material, time spent in committee meetings, and time spent preparing the final decision document.”
- A book about drag queens is being challenged at the Los Alamos Public Library (NM). The complainer also wants to end LGBTQ+ displays in the children’s area.
- Meridian Public Library (ID) will NOT be dissolved and the ballot measure asking for its dissolution will not happen.
- “A Missouri Republican is targeting county library boards’ ability to levy taxes, only a week after the House cut all state aid for libraries.” They want to remove the rights given to library boards who do not bow to their whims. The Missouri republicans continue to ACTIVELY DISMANTLE their public goods.
- Two more books will remain on shelves in Carroll Public Schools (IA). Why does the newspaper un-ironically cite BookLooks?
- Ireland is removing This Book Is Gay from sex ed curriculum.
- Bonnie Eagle School District (ME) just voted to “temporarily” remove 8 books from shelves to review them. This is a book ban.
- Farmington School Board (AR) just put restrictions on two books: All Boys Aren’t Blue and Tricks.
- Windham High School library (ME) will be able to keep Gender Queer.
- This is not good news for the Mississippi Valley Library (IL).
- “We need to be clear about what is behind the push to remove materials: a well-orchestrated fear campaign targeting our LGBTQ+ community. The point is to silence, isolate, and disappear our friends, family members, co-workers and neighbors. Unfortunately, the teen suicide rate in the LGBTQ+ community is extremely high, due to labeling, rejection, persecution, humiliation, bullying and discrimination. None of this is true Christian behavior. Jesus spent time with the outcasts of His culture, and He treated them with dignity and respect. We should all do the same.” This is a good letter in response to potential book bans in Macon County (TN).