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More than 5,000 US schools have banned books from libraries and classrooms, according to the new report compiled by Pen America, a non-profit that supports freedom of expression in literature.
There is a “rapid acceleration” of book censorship occurring across America, with more than 2,500 different text bans taking place over the past school year, per the report.
Many of the books have been restricted for featuring people and subject matter related to identities such as LGBTQ+, with a third of all book bans from April to June including people with such identities, often under a justification that the titles are “obscene.” Contemporary race relations and discussion of America’s past have also been a target, with 40% of titles banned featuring prominent characters of color.
Many books are being banned by organizations – not individuals
While it is an unfortunate truth that book bans have long been a part of America’s education fabric, the Pen report suggests they are now driven less by the complaints of individual parents, teachers, or administrators but more by organized, ideological groups and overt heavy-handed pressure from politicians.
Jonathan Friedman, a lead author of the Pen report, confirms, “the work of groups organizing and advocating to ban books in schools is especially harmful to students from historically marginalized backgrounds, who are forced to experience stories that validate their lives vanishing from classrooms and library shelves.”
Culture wars will be decided upon in Fall elections
Book bans are getting the attention of everyone and it is an issue voters will carry with him into the booth.
The national poll, commissioned by the nonprofit EveryLibrary Institute and conducted by nonpartisan firm Embold Research, surveyed 1,123 registered voters from August 31 to September 3. Among its key findings: some 92% of voters are aware of the current wave of book banning. And, crucially, some 75% of respondents said they will consider book bans when they vote in November.