‘Banned Books Week’ reaffirms ongoing censorship of books about LGBT families

"And Tango Makes Three"

"And Tango Makes Three"

The American Library Association’s annual “Banned Books Week” is underway, and again this year books about LGBT people and their families remain one of the biggest targets of censorship in school classrooms and libraries, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Banned Books Week” is the national book community’s annual celebration of the freedom to read, and aims to draw attention to the issue of censorship in schools and local libraries.

"And Tango Makes Three"

“And Tango Makes Three”

This year, as in previous years, the children’s book “And Tango Makes Three” — by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, about two male penguins that find an abandoned egg and raise a penguin chick together — made the American Library Association’s (ALA) list of the 10 most often banned books.

Another frequent target of censorship, according to the ACLU, is “The Family Book,” which as part of a survey of many different types of families includes a single page stating “some families have two moms and two dads.”

And just this past year, the ACLU and the ACLU of Utah took a Utah school district to court to overturn the its decision to pull a book about a family with two moms, “In Our Mothers’ House,” from the school libraries. The book was removed after a group of parents complained that it “normalized a lifestyle that we don’t agree with.”

“This anti-LGBT censorship extends into cyberspace,” reports Joshua Block, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s LGBT Project.

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A few years ago, the ACLU launched a national “Don’t Filter Me” campaign to challenge school web-filtering software that blocked access to non-sexual websites about LGBT people and their families, while allowing free access to comparable websites that attacked LGBT people for lacking family values.

Block says that although the ACLU won a court victory holding that viewpoint-based censorship such as website blocking in schools is unconstitutional, as recently as this past spring the ACLu threatened legal action against another school district whose filtering software was configured to block access to websites such as “Freedom to Marry” by labeling them as “sexuality.”

“The fact of the matter is that children with same-sex parents attend schools across the country, and blocking websites or removing books from the shelves won’t change that,” he writes. “It only serves to stigmatize these students and their families as something dirty or shameful.”

Banned Books Week, which runs through Sept. 28, was launched in 1982. Since then, the ALA has documented more than 11,300 books that have been challenged by local schools and libraries.

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