Texas has been making the headlines this year for the greatest book ban in decades. Parents of different ethnicity and culture have been swarming board meetings and filing formal complaints against books that deal with race, racism, sex, abuse, and sexuality. They have adamantly demanded to assess the appropriateness of the literature for young readers. While the trend of challenging content of libraries is on a rise all across the nation, books banned in Texas are considered significant.
While some perceive this as a planned move for political gains, parents and other concerned citizens have highlighted the racial discrimination, explicit sexual descriptions and illustrations, sexual abuse, and LGBTQ+ content of these books are alarming. Ensuing from over 86 formal call requests to ban such books in Texas, over 130 publications have been removed from the shelves of different schools, some of which are under scrutiny while others are taken off permanently.
One such book raising the eyebrows of many parents is “Cinderella is dead” by Kalynn Bayron. The book portrays a queer black teenager. 17-year-old, high-school senior Gabrielle Izu from Katy ISD near Houston, who sees herself reflected in the book, says she feels threatened in a society that fails to accept literature depicting queer individualities.
“It felt like my identity was seen as dangerous because of the banning of a story like that. What about my story? Am I seen as a bad influence?” Izu said. “Am I seen as something that should be shamed?”
List of Books Banned in Texas
Among many other books which made the list of targeted titles challenged by parents for their LGBTQ+ content, some are;
- Drama by “Raina Telgemeier”
- Better Nate than Ever by “Tim Federle”
- This One Summer by “Mariko Tamaki”
- The Breakaways by “Cathy G. Johnson”
- All Boys aren’t Blue by “George M. Johnson”
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by “Stephen Chbosky”
- More Happy Than Not by By “Adam Silvera”
- Last night at the Telegraph Club by “Malinda Lo”
Many school libraries have also taken books off their shelves that opine on racial prejudice. Few such titles include;
- When Wilma Rudolph Played Basketball by “Mark Weakland”
- Ghost Boys by “Jewell Parker Rhodes”
- Ground Zero: A novel of 9/11 by “Alan Gratz”
- Michelle Obama: A Political Icon by “Heather E. Schwartz”
- Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by “Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi”
- New Kid by “Jerry Craft”
- Class Act by “Jerry Craft”
- Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness by “Anastasia Higginbotham”
- We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices by “Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson”
A lot of parents have also shown concern over books with the depiction of sexual exploitation such as;
- The Bluest Eye by “Toni Morrison”
- Girls Like Us by “Gail Giles”
The books portraying abuse of minors, such as;
- The Kite Runner by “Khaled Hosseini”
- Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by “Susan Kuklin”
Students’ Response to the Book Ban in Texas
Students in Texas, on the other hand, have taken this challenge as a threat to their freedom to choose what to read. They are forming banned books clubs (Leander ISD near Austin) and carrying out distribution drives (Katy ISD) to fight back against what they think is a threat to their true identities. They opine that reading a book may not alter their sexual orientation but help them accept their queer personalities.
While the efforts for banning books with questionable material have been intensifying since the last year; students, however, seem hopeful that their opinions and sentiments would make a difference someday and the banned books shall be available again with open access to all.