December 3, 2021
The Authors Guild advocates for the rights of professional writers to create, publish, and earn a sustainable living as fiction and nonfiction writers, poets, translators, and journalists. Book banning, whether challenged by the right or the left, interferes with those rights, not only by suppressing free speech and freedom of expression but by making it harder for authors to sell copies of their work.
According to the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, the number of school boards being asked in 2021 to ban certain books and concepts is unprecedented. In the past three months, school libraries in at least seven states have removed books challenged by community members. As of November 24, 29 states have introduced bills or taken other steps that would restrict teaching critical race theory or limit how K-12 teachers can discuss racism and sexism.Eight states—Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas—have already outlawed discussions of critical race theory not only at K-12 public schools but in some cases also at colleges and universities. These laws often include confusing and wide-sweeping restrictions on discussions of, and texts related to, race, gender, and sexuality in general. Indeed, of the 850 books Texas plans to ban in public schools, just eight percent center around race and racism, 14 percent focus on sex education, including reproductive rights, and a whopping 62 percent feature LBGTQ+ characters or discuss issues related to sexual orientation or gender identity.
Among the books most frequently targeted are Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye (1970), George M. Johnson’s All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto (2020), Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer: A Memoir (2019), Jonathan Evison’s Lawn Boy (2018), and Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2006). Not one of these works references critical race theory or how legal policies institutionalize racism. This certainly raises questions about the key motivation behind these myriad book ban challenges.
Visit our Stop Book Bans Toolkit to learn how you can help us stop book banning.