The ideological battle for young minds has once again spilled into the classroom and, once again, books are the target.

As social anxieties increase over the push for LGBTQ+ inclusion and the proliferation of misinformation about critical race theory, public schools’ board meetings have frequently been the site of passionate arguments to remove “objectionable” content from school libraries.

Moms for Liberty, a conservative nonprofit that has been at the vanguard of book banning efforts, argues that it doesn’t support “banning” books but simply wants the books to be age-appropriate.

The phrase “banned book” has a long history of referring to books that have been removed from public school libraries and reading lists, so let’s not get caught up in word games.

As for age-appropriateness, parents may disagree on what is appropriate for what age. The kinds of books that have been challenged suggest an ulterior motive.

According to the American Library Association, of the top 10 books challenged in 2021, five were challenged for LGBTQ+ content.

From 2018 through 2020, the No. 1 challenged book was “George” by Alex Gino. Some reasons cited were, “LGBTQ+ content, portraying a transgender character, conflicting with a religious viewpoint and not reflecting values of the community and traditional family structure.”

Imagine being a child of same-sex parents and hearing the message that your family is somehow in conflict with community values and deserves no representation or discussion in school. Imagine being a high school student who is LGBTQ+ and being told that your very existence is “not age-appropriate.”

LGBTQ+ content isn’t the only reason for challenging books. Other reasons include discussions of racial injustice and police brutality, which are stated to be “politically charged and sensitive topics.”

What exactly is education for if not to address relevant issues in the community and the world at large?

In The Herald Bulletin’s own reporting on the issue of book banning, some sources comment that pornography shouldn’t be in school libraries.

Pornography is defined by Mirriam-Webster as the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement. Unless those who are challenging books have a very strange idea of what is sexually exciting, there is no pornography in school libraries.

And, finally, some books are challenged for promoting witchcraft or dark magic. The ever popular Harry Potter fantasy series has been frequently challenged due to references to magic and witchcraft and containing “actual spells and curses.”

Certainly, children could get injured if they attempted to fly on broomsticks, but it’s highly unlikely any of them will be manifesting supernatural powers, no matter how many times they chant “Expecto Patronum!”

In any well-stocked school library, many different political and social viewpoints should be represented, as should the lived experiences of many authors.

If residents are concerned about students being swayed to a particular viewpoint, the reasonable solution is not to remove books but to add more books.

There should be enough room on the shelves for books that present a more conservative or traditional worldview. Shielding young minds from ideas that may challenge their worldview is the wrong answer and antithetical to education.
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