Attempts at banning books in US reach record high — report

Agence France-Presse
Attempts at banning books in US reach record high � report
This file photo shows books in a private library.

NEW YORK, United States — Requests for books to be removed from US shelves soared to a record-high in 2022, with the majority of titles "targeted for censorship" related to LGBTQ issues and minorities, according to data released by the American Library Association Thursday.

A total of 1,269 individual "challenges" — demands to restrict or remove one or more books — were filed in the United States last year, the NGO said. 

This beat the previous record of 729 set a year prior, according to the association, which began recording such data in 2003.

"Of those titles, the vast majority were written by or about members of the LGBTQIA+ community and people of color," the ALA said. 

"Overwhelmingly, we're seeing these challenges come from organized censorship groups that target local library board meetings to demand removal of a long list of books they share on social media," Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom, said in a statement.

According to the ALA, over 2,500 individual books were "targeted for censorship" last year, up from around 1,900 in 2021.

The vast majority (86%) were children's books, and more than half (58%) were books taught or available at school.

"Their aim is to suppress the voices of those traditionally excluded from our nation's conversations, such as people in the LGBTQIA+ community or people of color."

Caldwell-Stone called each ban attempt "a direct attack on every person's constitutionally protected right to freely choose what books to read and what ideas to explore."

US conservative leaders have launched a renewed focus on education, looking to weed out teachings they say are pushing a so-called progressive agenda, especially on race and gender identity.

In recent years, the classic novel "Beloved" by African-American novelist Toni Morrison has been particularly targeted.

The 1988 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel explores the destructive and traumatic legacy of slavery, telling the story of a free Black woman who is held prisoner by the memories of her life as a former slave.

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