To the Editor:
Not even six months ago, at the height of the masking debates, one of our school board directors forwarded an email recommendation by a current school board member’s husband to re-read a copy of Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler in relation to Covid-19 mitigation efforts and dictatorial processes.
As insane as that sounds, it happened, and there was no faux outrage.
Now, we are discussing banning books over their offensiveness. Not just any books though, not the books that depict racism in a positive light. No. Angry parents in the district are targeting books that depict the African-American and LGBTQIA+ experience in a society that is desperately trying to move more towards acceptance and inclusion every single day. Those are dangerous books to these people. This same group of people holding a political ideology that fervently defended racism depicted in Dr. Seuss’s books now find any books teaching about racism and bigotry in a negative light to be offensive and must be kept out of the hands of children who could learn from our past mistakes and how we’ve treated our marginalized brothers and sisters in this country and continue to this day. They claim their reasoning to be sexualized content in the books, however, a quick look through of the books shows a different pattern.
It can’t be overlooked that the entirety of these books that the local groups are trying to ban all revolve around minority race issues or LGBTQIA+ sexuality. I have not seen one book on their list that has anything to do with consensual white heterosexual intercourse. What I have seen on the local Internet forums are parents in this district who are proponents of book banning calling heterosexual kids “normal” and trans kids “sick.” What kind of message are we sending to the LGBTQIA+ kids within our community when we allow hate speech like that to precede the banning of books for the gay community to identify with? This is bigotry, plain and simple.
“Lily and Dunkin” is about a trans child and a bipolar child becoming friends. “Out of Darkness” author Ashley Hope Perez defended her work, retaliating against the critique of the dialogue she chose for her novel by saying, “It doesn’t prove their point at all. Those words are from the voice of the racist boys, objectifying the main character, laying claim to her and her sexuality. The book is actually critiquing all of that. I was including the reality of what the (Mexican-American) character has to navigate.”
These books are an escape for the kids who need them, the kids who face bigotry like this in the hallways every single day. It’s no great secret that there is a racial and bigotry problem on the school grounds, ask anyone in the marginalized community what they experience and try to walk in their footsteps for a moment of your life. Most of the parents objecting to these books don’t have children dealing with the issues related to these books, and so don’t understand their need to be available. All the evidence points back to their racism and bigotry and the coordinated effort across the nation to use these ignorant people to spew the same arguments and talking points at school board meetings everywhere right now.
The bottom line, banning books is never the answer. If you don’t want your kid to see these books, by all means, limit their exposure on your own, but you have no right to limit the rest of our children in the process.