These LGBTQ and anti-racist books are criticized by book banners

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2021 has been a banner year for the challenges of the book. Ring Wing groups staged protests across the country that claimed porn was in school libraries – “porn”, of course, being any LGBTQ book. He also brought in new legislation and new political positions to “protect” white students from the “embarrassment” of learning racism, including in history. A Texas lawmaker drew up a list of 850 titles he wanted removed from state school libraries, most of them LGBTQ, and at least one district pulled hundreds of books from shelves for “review.”

A common response to this increase in censorship attempts is that nothing makes people want to read a book more than its ban. Also known as Streisand effectThe idea is that book bans will make those books more popular and sell more copies. It’s a heartwarming thought, but it’s misleading.

For one thing, in a list of 850 titles, no book is gaining popularity through word of mouth or media coverage – they all blend together. And in a seemingly endless wave of book-related challenges, it’s hard to think that any of these titles are generating much interest even if they are the subject of topical articles. The more contested the books are and the more frequently these stories seem everyday, the less publicity these titles receive.

More importantly, this effect would only work if people to know the book is banned or contested. More difficult to follow is the kind of silent self-censorship that leads librarians and teachers to leave books off the curricula and shelves because they fear they will be faced with the wrath of the book banners. While the American Library Association and other groups keep track of the formal challenges of books, these quieter instances are impossible to register, and they can only take books away from readers.

A somewhat new factor in this war on anti-racist and LGBTQ books is the bombardment of critics. Review bombardment occurs when a large group of people (or a small group of people with many accounts) leave targeted negative reviews of a product online. When star ratings are involved, it can affect the item’s average rating.

Most of the books that have been the most contested this year are also subject to review, especially on Amazon. These reviews are exaggerated and misleading, and can easily lead consumers who know nothing about this ongoing battle to be afraid to buy, especially for their child.

Here are some of the books targeted by the bombings:

lawn boy by Jonathan Évison

lawn boy was one of the most contested books of the year, including the challenges that attempted to involve the police. The best reviews on Amazon are 1 star, calling it “layman” and “pedophile trash”. One of the best reviews on Goodreads calls it a “wake-up pro-pedophile book designed to prepare kids.”

Strangely, lawn boy by Gary Paulsen also receives 1 star reviews from people mixing it up with Evison’s book of the same title.

homosexual blanket

Homosexual gender by Maia Kobabe

The book that has taken the brunt of this year’s censorship attempts, with new ones every week, is Homosexual gender. All of the top Amazon reviews in the US are 1 star, calling it “indoctrination” and “pornography” and saying, and I quote, “This book should be burned. These reviews have each been voted approximately 400 times. Tellingly, the “Top Reviews from Other Countries” section is fully rated 5 stars, calling it “brave” and “on the move”. One of those comments reads: “[I]I feel seen. I’m not alone and neither are you.

The cover of C'est Parfaitement Normal

it’s perfectly normal by Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberley

This puberty book has been around since 1994 and is regularly updated. The new update includes LGBTQ topics and has generated negative reactions. Featured Amazon reviews call it “total porn” and claim that it prepares children for pedophiles.

the cover of Out of Darkness

Out of the darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez

This is another book that has recently had a lot of book challenges that take the lines out of context to spark outrage. Amazon’s top reviewers call it “harmful,” “traumatic” and “disturbing.” On the positive side, the second featured review is titled “I’m grateful to the angry parent at a local school board meeting that forced me to buy this book” and calls it “one of the best. novels I have never read. “

the cover of Not all the boys are blue

Not all boys are blue by George M. Johnson

It’s no accident that most of these books are LGBTQ, written by authors of color, or both. In recent years, LGBTQ books (especially trans) and books by black authors have been the most contested in school. This bizarre memoir by a black author has an Amazon review titled “PORN,” with several other reviews echoing the charge of “porn” and opposing it being a “teacher’s choice. “from Amazon.

This is just a selection of a few of the books that have been bombarded with reviews as a result of censorship attempts. This seems to be most common on Amazon, where fewer people leave reviews and more people have accounts, including those who don’t typically review books.

Other books criticized for having LGBTQ or anti-racist content include:

And much, much more.

Luckily, there’s an easy way to help: Just vote for helpful reviews on Goodreads and Amazon to push those negative reviews down the page. You can also leave your own positive reviews, but most of these books have reviews that are much more positive than negative. It’s just that the negative reviews are pushed to the top. It has never been easier to fight against censorship, racism, homophobia and transphobia!

Of course, if you want to do more, check out our anti-censorship toolkit.

  • “I know it when I see it”: Who pulled the queer genre off the shelves of the Wake County library?
  • Can the Island Trees case of 1982 have an impact on today’s book censorship? This week’s book censorship news: December 17, 2021
  • Students, teachers and librarians are fed up with the challenges of the book: This week’s censorship news, December 10, 2021
  • There have been over 155 literary challenges since June: This week’s censorship news, December 3, 2021
  • How to Prepare for Book 2022 Challenges: This Week’s Censorship News
  • Wake up: censorship has always existed. It’s at Fever Pitch Today.
  • Craighead County Library’s Battle Against Censorship
  • Student petition for library books, school board members want to burn LGBTQ + titles and more censorship news: November 12, 2021
  • New report shows significant damage from educational gag orders

Colin L. Johnson