Public Schools

A study examined more than 1,000 efforts to ban books in 37 states. It found that 11 people were responsible for most of them.

  Rhys Long

The Washington Post undertook an analysis of book challenges nationwide and found something striking: A mere 11 people are responsible for the majority of the 1,000 challenges in the 37 states the newspaper analyzed. As is often the pattern with Christian Nationalists, a small group of religious extremists is responsible for a large amount of trouble.

The fact that only 11 people were responsible for so many of the book challenges in public schools highlights an underlying assumption from the anti-LGBTQ crowd: that they are better judges of what is morally, ethically and societally appropriate than anyone else. These parents exhibit a holier-than-thou moralism, which they use to control the lives of others. They are self-appointed protectors of Christian ideals in the secular sphere and act as religious arbiters to ensure that their extreme interpretation of the Christian faith – a view not shared by millions of American Christians – is not offended.

Georgia parent calls for burning book

One parent mentioned in the article, who challenged several books in Forsyth County, Ga., last school year, demanded that all copies of a title about a gay hockey player be removed and burned. She told The Post, “It has no place in the school system. It really has no place in society. I am a believer in Jesus Christ, and I feel he has put this passion in me to protect children.”

White Christian Nationalists are no longer hiding their fascist tendencies, instead choosing to openly call for book burnings and the ostracization of LGBTQ people from society; Christian Nationalists want to push LGBTQ people not just out of schools, but out of society generally. They will not be happy until their religious and discriminatory worldview is imposed upon all of us.

Erasing LGBTQ youth

The damage done by banning books containing LGBTQ content has been hashed and rehashed; framing LGBTQ people as unnatural, unworthy and unacceptable causes significant harm to members of this community – especially LGBTQ youth. Depictions of LGBTQ people are not inappropriate and are actually beneficial in fostering acceptance and understanding for LGBTQ kids. And if kids are old enough to be exposed to heterosexual couples and content, then they are certainly old enough to be exposed to LGBTQ couples and content; if an opposite-sex kiss in a book draws no complaints, then neither should a same-sex kiss.

It is again worth mentioning that parents can stop their kids from reading books that they believe contain inappropriate content. As a parent, you have the right to tell your children they cannot read certain books, but you do not have the right to enforce those restrictions school-wide. Few, if any, of the books being challenged are even part of the curriculum; most are just available in the library. If these extremists have their way, that won’t stay the case for long. And if these anti-LGBTQ efforts prove successful, religious extremists won’t stop there: next will be books about race, history and anything that does not fit neatly into the Christian Nationalist agenda.


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