Republicans have pushed for almost 1,600 book bans in public schools

Republicans have pushed for almost 1,600 book bans in public schools

Across the nation, Republicans’ campaign to censor books that highlight race, gender, and sexual orientation have resulted in nearly 1,600 books banned in the past nine months, according to a new report.

The report from PEN America, found from July 2021 to the end of March this year, more than 1,586 books were banned in 86 school districts in 26 states.

  • The report found that of the banned books, 467 — or 41% — contained main or secondary characters of color; 247, or 22%, addressed issues of race and racism; and 379, or 33%, of books contained LGBTQ+ themes and characters.
  • In North Carolina, Republicans are mirroring the GOP’s coordinated national effort of manufacturing outrage, instead of focusing on school funding.
  • Most notably, Republican leaders like Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson advocated for the removal of  three LGBTQ-themed books, including Gender Queer, which is among the top three banned titles that Republicans have pushed for across the country.
  • “This is an orchestrated attack on books whose subjects only recently gained a foothold on school library shelves and in classrooms,” said Jonathan Friedman, director of PEN America’s Free Expression and Education program, in a statement. “We are witnessing the erasure of topics that only recently represented progress toward inclusion.”

This week, the American Library Association published its annual report on book censorship, finding 729 challenges to 1,597 books to be banned or removed in 2021. Many of the titles  targeted by Republicans and right-wing parent groups were about LGBTQ or Black experiences.

According to The Washington Post, that is the highest number recorded since the association began tracking the phenomenon 20 years ago.

Both reports underscore the blatant efforts by Republicans to erase parts of our history and deny students the freedom to learn. This attack on public education, as they refuse to adequately fund schools, emphasizes how adamant Republicans are to divide our country and distract us from their failure to govern in our interest.

Alanna Joyner

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