Over 1,600 books were banned in U.S. school districts in one year – and the number is increasing

The number of books banned in U.S. school districts is on the rise, New report from PEN America found it. Books in U.S. public schools were banned 2,532 times between July 2021 and June 2022, according to a nonprofit dedicated to defending free speech.

PEN America said 1,648 unique titles were banned during this period.between July 2021 and March 2022, PEN tracked 1,586 book bans. Since the report was published in April, a further 275 book bans have been recorded between April 2022 and June 2022.

Many banned books (41%) included LGBTQ themes, main characters or prominent secondary characters. Up to 40 percent of those banned include people of color. Books dealing with issues of race and racism (21%) and books on rights and activism (10%) were also banned. About 22% of banned books contain pornographic content. Biographies, autobiographies and stories about religious minorities are also on the banned books list.

There are many reasons why schools and libraries ban books.Last year, dozens of Republican state lawmakers Introduced a bill for prohibited content They find it offensive at school.

PEN America estimates that at least 40 percent of book bans are related to legislation “or related to political pressure imposed by state officials or elected legislators to restrict the teaching or existence of certain books or concepts.”

PEN America has also identified at least 50 groups, many with local or regional chapters, that they say play a role in at least 50 percent of the book bans enacted nationwide for the 2021-2022 school year.

under legislation targeting racial and sexual themed content, and public movement, Schools may feel pressure to remove books from classrooms and libraries.

The American Library Association (ALA) keeps track of frequently banned books, some of which are very popular titles — like the Harry Potter series, which was in the top 10 banned books in 2019. The series was banned because “referring to magic and sorcery, used to contain actual curses and incantations, and characters who use ‘evil means’ to achieve their goals,” According to the ALA.

However, most books are banned because they contain topics about race or sexuality.

Some states have banned books containing racial themes by using the term “critical race theory” in their legislation. Critical race theory is most often taught at universities or law schools, Acknowledging racial differences It has existed throughout U.S. history and has been reinforced in U.S. laws and institutions.

Although there are No Evidence for Critical Race Theory Taught in K-12 schools, it is often used as a catch-all term in state legislation (including Texas) to limit discussions about race in the classroom.

PEN America said in its report that books containing sexual themes, such as “gender queer,” are often viewed as “obscene” and “pornographic” by those who want to ban them.

According to PEN America, “Gender Queer” is the most frequently banned book, written by Maia Kobabe, whose publisher describes it as a “helpful and moving guide on gender identity.”

Deborah Stone, director of the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom, told CBS News last year that books “reflecting LGBTQIA personal and family life” provide important representation.

“You may not be an audience, your children may not be an audience, but oftentimes, these books have audiences and often are desperately needed,” she said.

PEN America says there is evidence that bans are continuing in the 2022-2023 school year — with at least 139 bans in effect since July 2022.

“The campaign to ban books is very undemocratic in that it often tries to impose restrictions on all students and families based on the preferences of those calling for a book ban, although opinion polls have consistently shown that Americans of All Political Aspects Oppose Banned BooksPEN America cites a CBS News poll that found more than eight in 10 Americans believe schools should not ban books that discuss race and criticize American history, depict slavery in the past, or more generally use them in politics. Disagree with ideas.

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