Schools Increasingly Banning Books that Deal With Race and SexualityS

Well, to put it bluntly, this completely sucks: anti-censorship group The Kids' Right to Read Project (KRRP) has reported that U.S. schools are increasingly banning books that deal with race or sexuality and books written by "minority" authors.

According to the Guardian, KRRP investigated 49 book bannings or removals from shelves in 29 states this year, which is a 53 percent increase from 2012. Acacia O'Connor of the organization said that she wasn't sure whether the increase was the result of a coordinated effort: "But there are moments, when a half-dozen or so challenges regarding race or LGBT content hit within a couple weeks, where you just have to ask 'what is going on out there?'"

The list of books that have been threatened by school boards includes Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, The Color Purple by Alice Walker, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (which was branded "anti-Christian") and The Diary of Anne Frank, which one parent lambasted as "pornographic." That anyone would think these books aren't edifying and essential is ridiculous; that anyone can find it in himself to decry them as harmful to the youth is both insulting and infuriating. Removing these books from the shelf does immeasurable harm to teenagers: it teaches them to associate authorship with whiteness and maleness and heterosexuality, and it deprives them of any semblance of perspective.

A fun anecdote from my own life: in my high school, this horrible man went on a rampage and demanded that July's People by South African author Nadine Gordimer be removed from the 11th grade English syllabus because there was a period sex scene in it. And then I ended up at the same college as someone from my high school graduating class and she literally asked someone, "What's apar-thee-id?" WHAT'S. APAR-THEE-ID. It confounds me to this very day. So, yeah, banning books is patently atrocious. Ignorance and small-mindedness should not be allowed to proliferate in this way.

On the bright side, the KRRP has seen its share of successes in knocking down bans this year. "It's been a sprint since the beginning of the year," O'Connor told the Guardian. "We would settle one issue and wake up the next morning to find out another book was on the chopping block." They've really been busy — a look at the "Activities" section of their website is a veritable roster of victories.