CHICAGO (LifeSiteNews) – A group of teachers’ unions, librarians, and book publishers have formed a coalition of more than two dozen organizations that oppose banning sexually explicit and pro-LGBTQ books in schools.
“United Against Book Bans,” a coalition led by the American Library Association (ALA), formed last month in reaction to parents’ protests of sexually explicit books. The organization has expanded to include publishers Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster. Also included in the coalition are teachers’ unions the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Educators Association (NEA). The Human Rights Campaign, a pro-LGBTQ organization that advocates for child “sex changes,” is also involved.
“This is a dangerous time for readers and the public servants who provide access to reading materials,” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom in a statement Tuesday. “It’s time that policymakers understand the severity of this issue. ALA is taking the steps necessary to protect individual’s access to information, but we can’t do this alone.”
Last month, the ALA released a survey of the top ten books that have been banned or threatened with a ban. The two most banned books on the list were Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer: A Memoir and Jonathan Evison’s Lawn Boy. Both books contain graphic depictions of homosexual acts and have been subject to protest by parents for their content. Lawn Boy has been accused of promoting pedophilia.
One man in Florida was escorted out of a meeting last October for reading from Gender Queer on account of the book’s content. A similar occurrence happened in Fairfax County, Virginia, in November when a parent was asked to refrain from reading Gender Queer aloud at a meeting as children were present. The book was put back on Fairfax County school shelves after a brief ban.
According to Randi Weingarten, president of AFT, conservatives are responsible for the challenge to sexual books like Gender Queer.
“Parents agree – they want their children to learn the lessons of the past in an age-appropriate way, even as certain politicians try to turn classrooms into cultural battlefields and censor what gets taught,” she said in a statement. “The majority of these bans target titles with racial and LGBTQ themes, cruelly erasing young readers’ lived experience.”
Meg Kilgannon, senior fellow of education studies at the Family Research Council, an organization dedicated to defending parental rights in education, disagreed, telling the Washington Times, “Parents don’t want children to access pornography anywhere, especially not at libraries they patronize and pay for.”
“Adults who want to select books for school libraries should welcome community input and reflect community standards, especially the wishes of parents who pay for and provide the students for public schools,” Kilgannon said.
The coalition comes in the wake of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law, which forbids discussion of gender theory and sexuality in K-3 classrooms. It also comes in the wake of Glenn Youngkin’s successful campaign to become governor of Virginia, in which the issue of parental rights in education played a part after Democrat incumbent Terry McAuliffe said that he did not think that parents should have a say in school curricula.