Book Banning: It’s Still Happening in 2023

By Sofia Anna Zullo

Image of Pride Flag in front of Trinity ChurchLili Sposato
Picture this, you see a book online that seems interesting, you really want to read it, so you go to your school’s library and your librarian informs you that the book you are searching for is banned. Got that picture in your head? Ok, well, now understand that this is a reality for many students living in the following states; Florida, Missouri, Texas, South Carolina, Utah, Michigan, and many more.
What type of books are they banning? Are they banning books that incite hate speech, or that spread misinformation? Nope. The book bans that are occuring are targeting books featuring LGBTQ+ stories and LGBTQ+ characters, characters of color, and books on race and racism. Additionally, these states are banning books that touch on topics of reproductive health, and themes of grief and death.
One of the books that was banned was The Handmaid’s Tale: The Graphic Novel by Margaret Atwood. A novel that illustrates a patriarchal government, run by white supremacists, where women are used as human incubators and have no control over their reproductive rights. Ironic huh? Another book that was banned was, Gender Queer: A memoir. This graphic novel tackles themes of the journey of self discovery and identity, the mortification and discovery of adolescent crushes, and figuring out how to come out to family members and friends. Gender Queer: A memoir received a total of 56 bans.
Unfortunately, in this 2022-2023 school year, the number of banned books has skyrocketed and between July and December of 2022, incidents of book bans have occurred in 66 school districts across 21 states. This is a problem. The banning of books is undoubtedly undemocratic, and for a country that prides itself on being very democratic, this is simply unacceptable. What the states that are banning books are doing is restricting information and discouraging freedom of thought and expression. In general, banning books is an attack on democracy.
This ambush on democracy is targeting all of us, but specifically it is a direct attack on people in the LGBTQ+ community. By banning queer books, conservative politicians and conservative states are silencing queer voices and stories. The banning of these stories is not the only element of prejudice against the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, the governor of Florida, Ron Desantis passed a bill in Florida this mid-May, that outlawed gender-transition care for minors, restricting it to adults. Furthermore, the bill imposes a penalty up to five years in prison for doctors who violate the ban, and the removal of children from their homes if gender-affirming care is taken. This is beyond disgusting.  
When asked what her opinion was on the topic of banning books in general, Ms. Len, a teacher here at Lèman, stated, “I am firmly against banning books of any kind, I think everyone should have access to all books... It’s just wrong, wrong, wrong.”
And in regards to her opinions on states like Florida and South Carolina, banning books that talk about LGBTQ+ community and how do you think it will impact people in that community and others outside as well, Ms. Len stated, “I think banning books and not allowing folks to access books, just kind of leads to further intolerance and lack of understanding of different communities... I think it just leads to further division, and that’s problematic.”
The practice of book banning is still deeply troubling, especially in the year 2023. Book banning perpetuates harmful consequences for society, as it encourages ignorance and it restricts freedom of expression and thought. The silencing of LGBTQ+ stories that has been seen during this academic year is extremely detrimental. We are living in an era where inclusivity and understanding is a main principle in our society, let’s not let bigotry and prejudice bring us back in time. Instead of banning books, let’s amplify the voices of marginalized communities and celebrate the power of literature, together.