You didn’t think that we’d let Banned Books Week get away without giving you some homework, did you? Of course not!
One of the top reasons books are banned or challenged in schools is due to LGBTQ+ content. At HGLHC, we feel that it’s important for kids to be exposed to literature by and about all kinds of people, including LGBTQ+ people. So, here’s our Banned Books 2022 Reading List!
- All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson: In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. Not only was this book removed from school libraries across the US, it was even the subject of a criminal complaint against a school superintendent for making the book available to students. The sheriff’s office determined that there was no legal violation and the situation did not warrant further investigation.
- Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe: This graphic novel has become one of the most-banned books in schools in recent years. Maia’s intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fanfiction, and facing the trauma and fundamental violation of pap smears.
- Melissa by Alex Gino: When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl. George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part . . . because she’s a boy. From this it’s probably pretty obvious why anti-LGBTQ+ folks are always challenging this one.
- The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath: Technically not banned for LGBTQ+ themes, The Bell Jar was banned in some high schools at its publication for its rejection of traditional women’s gender roles. The Bell Jar chronicles the crack-up of Esther Greenwood: young, brilliant, beautiful, and enormously talented, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time.
- The Color Purple by Alice Walker: This classic has been banned by schools all over the country since its publication in part because it talks about lesbian relationships. The Color Purple depicts the lives of African American women in early twentieth-century rural Georgia. Separated as girls, sisters Celie and Nettie sustain their loyalty to and hope in each other across time, distance and silence. Through a series of letters spanning twenty years, first from Celie to God, then the sisters to each other despite the unknown, the novel draws readers into its rich and memorable portrayals of Celie, Nettie, Shug Avery and Sofia and their experience.