Maia Kobabe New York state Texas state Iowa state Florida boy asexual Maia Kobabe New York state Texas state Iowa state Florida

Recent Surge in Banned Books Targets Titles With Focus on Race, Sexuality

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All Boys Aren't Blue (published in 2020), and The 1619 Project (2021) by Nikole Hannah-Jones and The New York Times Magazine are not only facing removal from schools this year, but legal opposition as well.

Several states including Florida, Texas and Iowa, recently passed bills that prohibit teaching or discussing what they call "divisive concepts." Caldwell-Stone refers to the restrictions as educational gag orders, adding: "Books are being removed under the falsehood that they are 'critical race theory' or 'obscene' simply because they address topics dealing with gender and sexual identity."On the ALA's list of 2021's top 10 most challenged books (see below), released earlier this month, every title focuses on marginalized communities or issues of sexuality.

Newcomers to the list include Gender Queer (2019), Maia Kobabe's memoir on growing up nonbinary and asexual; Juno Dawson's This Book Is Gay (2014), which also focuses on sexuality and gender; and Jonathan Evison's Lawn Boy (2018), the coming-of-age story about a young Chicano landscaper.Advocates who want to keep the challenged books out of schools argue that they are inappropriate for young people. "Books like Lawn Boy, which graphically describes oral sex between a young boy and an adult, don't belong in schools," says Elana Fishbein, founder and president of No Left Turn in Education, a national organization against what it describes as a "Leftist agenda" in public education.

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