Thursday, June 13, 2024

The Standoff

Like a western from the 60s where two gunfights stare down one another the book banning vigilantes on one side and the anti-ban on the other side. The battles are for the minds of the children and they are battles being fought, in the ballot boxes, in the legislatures, and the courts.
 As a record number of school districts face bans on certain books and lawmakers enact measures that limit what can be taught about race and sexual identity in the classroom, some states are moving to counter the measures with laws that prohibit banning books.

Last month, Minnesota became the latest state to implement restrictions on banning books from public libraries, including those in K-12 public schools and colleges.

Minnesota joins Illinois and Maryland, which passed a similar measure in April. The laws also follow other efforts to push back on book bans in school districts in states such as Florida.

 There were more than 4,300 book bans across 23 states and 52 public school districts from July 2023 to December 2023, according to a report from PEN America, a nonprofit organization that fights to protect free speech and expression.

While efforts to censor books have persisted throughout history, the American Library Association has said the number of titles targeted for censorship reached “the highest levels ever documented” by the organization last year.
The right-wing conservatives are waving the banner of “parental rights!” but it is the exact opposite of “parental rights!” what want to do is force everyone else to their conservative views.
Last month, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, signed into law a measure prohibiting the banning or removal of “a book or other material based solely on its viewpoint or the messages, ideas, or opinions it conveys.”
And that is exactly what the conservatives want to do, ban books because of the book’s viewpoint or the messages, ideas, or opinions it conveys.

In the state of Colorado they…
Colorado has officially banned books bans in public libraries across the state. Senate Bill 216, the Standards for Decisions Regarding Library Resources, was introduced April 24 by Lisa Cutter, Dafna Michaelson Jenet, Eliza Hamrick, and Junie Joseph. Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed it into law this week.

The bill emphasizes the role of professional knowledge and experience in creating public library collections. It acknowledges the growth of book removals based on ideology across the country and responds by requiring library boards to develop and follow written policies related to acquisition, retention, display, and use of library materials. The board is likewise required to develop a policy for materials reconsideration if citizens are allowed to challenge material in the collection and more, they must follow those policies throughout the reconsideration process.
Wow! The right-wingers can’t hide in the shadows of anonymity…
The names of the individuals seeking to ban books in public libraries would be considered public record as well. This means that anyone can find out who is behind challenging books in public libraries–an issue that came up in the state in 2022, when four individuals in Gunnison County Library District attempted to remove Gender Queer from the collection. A state court ruled that their names were not public record and not subject to records requests. Senate Bill 216 states that those names are public record because those requests are not user records.
I bet that will cut down on the number of books trying to be banned.

And in Tennessee,
Tennesseans sought to remove hundreds of books from library shelves in 2023, many of them containing LGTBQ+ characters or themes. But some activists and librarians are fighting to keep them in circulation.


Based on data from the ALA, the majority of the top 10 challenged books in Tennessee included LGBTQ+ characters or themes.

A survey conducted by the Tennessee Library Association, or TNLA, found a similar trend among public libraries. The state-level survey included informal challenges, like when a patron verbally asks a librarian to remove or restrict a title, without filing any official paperwork. Large national datasets often don’t capture these kinds of challenges.

Of the 63 respondents to TNLA’s survey, more than half reported some kind of book challenge in 2021 or 2022. About a quarter said they had fielded a formal challenge.

Impact on libraries and librarians

Written responses to the survey also revealed that many librarians feel scared to do their jobs. Some reported facing threats and verbal harassment at work, leading to fears of being fired or physically harmed.
Character matters! The guy running for the top office has no character and it all pours downhill from him.

Stand up! Fight back!
The US librarian who sued book ban harassers: ‘I decided to fight back’
After Amanda Jones got death threats for speaking out against censorship, she sued her attackers and wrote a memoir
The Guardian
By Olivia Empson
2 Jun 2024

A librarian in Louisiana – one of the first in the US to file a lawsuit for defamation against her detractors – is speaking out about the fight she’s been part of as censorship and books bans escalate around the country.

Amanda Jones vividly remembers the time she received her first death threat. Hate, online bullying or photos sent to her house circling her face with red Biro like a target had been unsettling, but not uncommon. This was different.

Jones lost 50 pounds, took medical leave from work and watched in disbelief as chunks of her hair started to fall out. Knowing something had to change in the spring of 2023, she filed a lawsuit and wrote her book.


Jones’s story made international headlines when she became one of the first librarians in the US to file a lawsuit for defamation against those who launched personal attacks on her after she spoke out at a public library board meeting. In July of 2022, when book banning started affecting Livingston parish, where she lived and worked, Jones made a speech against literary censorship at her local public library board. A targeted attacks began shortly thereafter.

“One man posted a picture of me online asking parents how they’d feel if I was giving their kids pornography,” Jones said. “Another made a meme saying I advocate teaching 11-year-olds about anal sex.”

The two men behind these posts and attacks, Michael Lunsford and Ryan Thames, were the focus of the ensuing legal battle.
Stand Up Fight Back!
Annabelle Jenkins walked onto the stage during her graduation ceremony from the Idaho Fine Arts Academy in the West Ada School District with a book tucked into her sleeve. When she stood before West Ada Superintendent Derek Bub, she slipped out the book — the graphic novel of “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood and Renee Nault — faced the audience and smiled, and handed it toward Bub. It was one of 10 books the West Ada School District had removed from libraries earlier in the school year.


Jenkins said she’s not someone who likes to be the center of attention, but she didn’t want to shake Bub’s hand at her graduation. She said she came up with the idea as a polite but impactful way to stand up against the book removals, and encourage the administration to listen to and include more voices in their process.
Stand Up Fight Back!
Advocates highlight book bans, Title IX at Franklin Pride
By: Nikki McGee    
June 1, 2024

To kick off Pride Month, hundreds showed up to support the LGBTQ+ community at the fourth annual Franklin Pride event.  

During the event on Saturday, June 1, the Tennessee Equality Project (TEP) worked to raise awareness around several challenges currently facing students in our state.

The TEP highlighted a report released Friday, May 31, studying book bans across the state. The study found that Maury, Rutherford, and Wilson counties had some of the highest concentrations of book bans.  

“Pride is a celebration of identity, but when people are trying to ban books about you, that’s an erasing of your identity, so this is a major issue for pride,” said TEP Executive Director Chris Sanders.
Stand Up Fight Back!
Seeking Sanctuary
Public libraries establish themselves as book sanctuaries to counter bans
Last year, when states were introducing a raft of legislation that would effectively take books off the shelves, librarians at Harris County (Tex.) Public Library (HCPL) knew they wanted to take a stand.

American Library Magazine
By Ed Finkel
June 3, 2024

Texas House Bill 900, which would have restricted materials in school libraries and required vendors to assign book ratings based on so-called appropriateness before selling them to schools, had just been signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in June and was set to go into effect September 1, 2023. (On September 19, the bill was temporarily blocked by US District Judge Alan D. Albright. In January, the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision to prohibit the Texas Education Agency from forcing vendors to rate books, but the library standards outlined in the bill—which prohibit school districts from possessing or purchasing books with “harmful material”—remain.)

“Because the mission of public libraries is so much different from the school libraries, we weren’t thinking about being targeted by legislation,” says Edward Melton, HCPL executive director. But staffers were anxious about the climate of censorship, and HCPL itself had seen an uptick in requests for reconsideration of materials—from three requests in 2021 to 24 requests in 2023—and complaints about displays and drag storytimes.

“We knew [the pushback] could potentially lead to something political,” Melton says. “So we said, ‘Let’s go ahead and be proactive about this.’”
Stand Up Fight Back!

Irony of ironies...
The Indian River County school district banned Alan Gratz’s “Ban This Book,” about a fourth-grader determined to return removed titles to her school’s shelves.
The Washington Post
By Praveena Somasundaram
June 13, 2024

Alan Gratz’s “Ban This Book” tells the tale of a fourth-grader’s quest to bring her favorite book back to the school library after officials had it removed.

Late last month, a Florida school district banned “Ban This Book.”

A parent involved in Moms for Liberty, a right-wing parents-rights group, submitted a complaint about the book in February, alleging that it depicted sexual conduct and was “teaching children to be social justice warriors.” Though a school district committee recommended that “Ban This Book” be kept on shelves, the Indian River County school board voted to ban it last month.


“The overwhelming irony of banning a book about book banning has been enough to keep people from banning it for a little while,” Gratz, 52, told The Post.
But that didn't stop Moms for Liberty on their quest to force people to read only their approved books.
Jennifer Pippin, the chair of the Indian River, Fla., chapter of Moms for Liberty who filed the complaint about “Ban This Book,” told The Post in text messages Wednesday that she wanted titles with “sexually explicit content” removed from schools. She said she complained about “Ban This Book” because it referenced other banned books with sexual content. Pippin added that parents could still access the book through public libraries and online bookstores.
So there wasn't anything pornographic in the book but they stilled banned it!

Stand Up Fight Back!

All across the country people are saying enough is enough and are fighting back in the courts, in the legislatures, and in the ballot box.

Here in Connecticut there was a bill introduced in this years legislative session to ban the banning of books but because it was a short session it never really made it anywhere, but next year...

1 comment:

  1. It is fair to distinguish the subset of public libraries that are in public schools. That is where parents' views about that to which children are taught and exposed becomes relevant. Just as cars are too much to handle for certain ages, so are some mature concepts. Age-related screening has pretty good research behind it.

    Now, I believe I'll grab my purse and go enjoy a latte at Starbucks.