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Banned Books Week: Book Bans Are An Attack on LGBTQ Youth

Author: GLAAD
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Published: 19th Sep 2022 - Updated: 25th Sep 2022
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Summary: GLAAD points to book bans as just one arm of the organized national attack on LGBTQ youth as a new pen America report reveals nearly half of banned books are targeted due to LGBTQ content.


Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week was founded in 1982 by First Amendment and library activist Judith Krug. Krug said that the Association of American Publishers contacted her with ideas to bring banned books "to the American public's attention" after a "slew of books" had been banned that year. Today, Banned Books Week is an annual awareness campaign promoted by the American Library Association and Amnesty International that celebrates the freedom to read, draws attention to banned and challenged books, and highlights persecuted individuals. Held during the last whole week of September since 1982, the United States campaign "stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them" and the requirement to keep material publicly available so that people can develop their conclusions and opinions. The international campaign notes individuals are "persecuted because of the writings that they produce, circulate or read." Some events during Banned Book Week are The Virtual Read-Out and The First Amendment Film Festival.

Main Document

"Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to read and spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. For 40 years, the annual event has brought together the entire book community - librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types - in shared support of the freedom to seek and express ideas; even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular. The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted for removal or restriction in libraries and schools. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship" -

"This is a dangerous time for readers and the public servants who provide access to reading materials. Readers, particularly students, are losing access to critical information. Librarians and teachers are under attack for doing their jobs." - Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.

GLAAD, the world's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization and a member of the Banned Books Week coalition, is responding to new data about LGBTQ books under attack and urges the media to cover Banned Books Week to include research on the larger story of book challenges as the latest method to target LGBTQ people and youth.

Banned Books Week (September 18-24, 2022) is an annual event celebrating the freedom and constitutional right to read, especially in the classroom. GLAAD urges reporters covering Banned Books Week to properly contextualize book bannings as part of a larger organized movement to target LGBTQ youth.

Across the nation, LGBTQ titles have been targeted not only by extremist school board members but also by national anti-LGBTQ organizations and politicians. Many of the same elected officials and organizations linked to book ban efforts are also linked to school censorship legislation, bans on transgender and nonbinary youth access to school sports and affirming healthcare, and the targeting of hospitals and families that affirm transgender and nonbinary youth.

Quote from GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis:

"Banning books is just one arm of a larger, organized campaign to target and harass LGBTQ youth nationwide. There are no separating book bans from 'Don't Say Gay' laws, attacks on healthcare and sports for trans youth, and the hundreds of other bills and policies that put LGBTQ youth at the center of a target built by extremist groups and politicians. Everyone deserves to see themselves represented in books and other forms of media, and the targeting of LGBTQ youth through book bans and other anti-LGBTQ school policies must end."

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Depiction of burning banned books labeled: Deemed Unacceptable, Contains Low Moral Content, Politically Incorrect, Censored, Banned, and Objectionable.Depiction of burning banned books labeled: Deemed Unacceptable, Contains Low Moral Content, Politically Incorrect, Censored, Banned, and Objectionable.


Access to a Wide Variety of Reading Materials Is Critical for Student Development & Well-being

National Coalition kicks off Banned Books Week with a white paper on youth development and the freedom to read - American Library Association (09/19/2022).

Access to books representing various cultures and viewpoints may boost a student's development and well-being, according to a white paper from Unite Against Book Bans, an initiative of the American Library Association and several dozen national partners. The paper "Empowered by Reading: The Benefits of Giving Youth Access to a Wide Variety of Reading Materials" kicks off Banned Books Week (September 18-24, 2022) to inform the public and policymakers of the threat that book challenges and bans pose to America's education system and its communities.

Examining research conducted by experts in literacy, education, child development, and related fields, the paper underscores the benefits of providing children and youth with a wide variety of developmentally-appropriate reading materials, such as improvements in critical thinking skills and reading comprehension, as well as enhanced understanding and empathy.

"The proof is in the data: children are more likely to have a more productive learning experience and thrive in the classroom, throughout the school, and in their communities when they see themselves represented in curriculum and library materials," said Lessa Kanani'opua Pelayo-Lozada, President of the American Library Association. "Books that accurately depict different backgrounds serve as tools that help youth develop empathy for people from different walks of life."

Among the research noted, a 2018 study from the Cooperative Children's Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that 1% of books depicted American Indian/First Nations characters, 5% portrayed Latino characters, 7% Asian Pacific Islander/Asian Pacific American, 10% African/African American, while 50% depicted White characters. Additionally, GLSEN's 2019 National School Climate Survey shows that access to inclusive learning resources makes LGBTQ+ students feel safer and reduces bullying in schools.

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Unite Against Bookbans Slogan.Unite Against Bookbans Slogan.


Last week, the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom released preliminary data on attempts to remove books in 2022

These challenges represent a continued escalation in the coordinated efforts to silence some stories.

In response to the surge in book challenges and other efforts to suppress access to information, the ALA launched Unite Against Book Bans, a national initiative focused on empowering readers everywhere to stand together in the fight against censorship.

"Communities must look at the whole picture and take our youth's development and overall well-being into account before removing access to books and resources," said Pelayo-Lozada. "The attacks on our schools and libraries divide our nation's communities and severely harm our youth along the way."

References and Source(s):

Banned Books Week: Book Bans Are An Attack on LGBTQ Youth | GLAAD ( makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith. Content may have been edited for style, clarity or length.

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• (APA): GLAAD. (2022, September 19). Banned Books Week: Book Bans Are An Attack on LGBTQ Youth. Retrieved September 23, 2023 from

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