During the 2021- 2022 school year, Conservative groups initiated more than 1,600 book bans in over 5,000 schools. Most of the banned books dealt with topics such as LGBTQ+ and racism. “Conservative groups and parents are Googling to find books that have any LGBTQ content, and then a conservative group adds it to a list of inappropriate books,” said Jonathan Friedman, PEN America’s director of free expression and education programs.
About 50 Conservative groups have proposed book bans across the United States. According to pen.org, “at least 40 percent of bans listed in the Index (1,109 bans) are connected to either proposed or enacted legislation, or to political pressure exerted by state officials or elected lawmakers to restrict the teaching or presence of certain books or concepts.” Some groups have Christian nationalist political views and ban books discussing LGBTQ content and other religions.
Conservative groups claim these books use harsh and inappropriate topics such as sex, drugs, and violence. “Numerous studies on the use of graphic material by students indicate negative psychological effects,” said Jenni White, a former public school science teacher. They also believe that exposing students to violence in books can cause students to be aggressive.
Banned books may affect children; however, trying to censor books that discuss other perspectives can adversely affect students. “Banning books also have the potential to create significant gaps in knowledge for young learners,” says Maoria Kirker, lead of the Teaching and Learning Team at George Mason University.
Controversial Books give different perspectives on life. These books encourage empathy, social-development and improve critical thinking. “Stories help students build empathy. Diverse characters and points of view bring the world to life. Beyond building empathy for others,” said Kirker. These diverse points of view make marginalized groups feel seen. “It’s … saying to the children who either [have] the same identity or …[are] going through experiences in these books that are being banned that ‘I don’t wanna see you,” said Mark Oshiro.
Banning books is discriminatory. 80% of the books banned are from minority writers, according to naacpldf.org. Many of the books discuss topics of race and racism. These books are banned because many people do not want their kids to learn about race. Many people in these conservative groups do not want students to learn about critical race theory. According to northernstar.info, “The theory acknowledges that racism within America exists at an individual level but a systemic one within government, economic and political policies.”
The first amendment gives people the right to publish and speak without suppression from the government. Banning books violates people’s right to free speech. According to ala.org, “the First Amendment has been interpreted widely to protect individuals and society from government attempts to suppress ideas and information and to forbid government censorship of books, magazines, and newspapers as well as art, film, music, and materials on the internet.”
People are wasting their time by banning books. It is not the way to protect children from the world. According to Procon.org, “A 2022 poll found 71% disagreed with efforts to have books removed.” Banning books is doing more harm than good. Who will protect people’s freedoms if the Government will not?