In honor of Banned Book Week last year, we drafted this roundup of LGBT titles that are often challenged by reactionaries who try to pull them from public libraries, schools and even bookstores. Sadly, it’s still current.
And Tango Makes Three
(Justin Richardson and Henry Cole, Simon and Schuster).
About two male penguins who raise a chick in the Central Park Zoo, this is one of the American Library Association’s most challenged titles. It especially dangerous in the eyes of homophobes because its based on a true story.
Baby Be Bop
(Francesca Lia Block, HarperCollins)
Among the various provincial groups demanding the the recall of this teen-lit coming-out story for its “graphic language” and for “promoting a homosexual agenda” was the Christian Civil Liberties Union (CCLU) who filed suit against West Bend, Wisconsin for carrying the book in public libraries. But they didn’t just want the book reshelved in the adult section, as others had requested. Saying elderly librarygoers had been “damaged mentally and emotionally” by Baby Be Bop’s presence, they claimed “it’s inappropriate to have it in the library, and we want it out or destroyed.”
(Brent Hartinger, HarperCollins)
The American Booksellers Association named this oft-banned title one of their favorites, so you know it just has to be soul-damaging. Community members from Tacoma, WA (Hartiger’s hometown) to West Bend, WI complained about its “immoral”gay content.
Coming Out in College: The Struggle for a Queer Identity
(Robert A. Rhoades, Bergin & Garvey)
Parents in Fayetteville, AR petitioned to have this fairly stuffy primer removed this from school libraries. Because “The John Birch Society” was already taken, they formed Parents Protecting the Minds of Children and objected to the profane language and depictions of sexuality in the book. They also said anyone who disagreed with their stance was, naturally, promoting a homosexual agenda.
King & King
(Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland, Tricycle Press)
Another children’s book, this fairy tale fell into the crosshairs of North Carolina and Pennsylvania conservatives for two reasons: It presented the story of a young prince who, when forced to marry by his mother, chose another prince. And two, it’s originally from the Netherlands—and nothing decent comes from Europe.
(Michael Willhoite, Alyson Books)
Sarah Palin got her panties in a bunch over this children’s book being available in public libraries in her old stomping ground of Wasilla, AK, even thought she admitted she had never read it. So to be clear: Daddy being gay and having a longtime partner = bad. Daughter having child out of wedlock and everyone in the family trying to make a buck on reality television = good.
The Education of Harriet Hatfield
(By May Sarton, Norton & Co)
Not only was this book—about a lesbian who faces bigotry and discrimination when she opens a bookstore in a blue-collar neighborhood—taken off the shelves at a New Hampshire high school, an English teacher was fired for refusing to comply.
Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin
(John D’Emilio, University of Chicago Press)
Homophobes don’t just want to prevent positive depictions of the LGBT community in schools—they want to delete our very existence from the history books. When gay activists in Oklahoma City donated copies of this biography of Rustin, a major player in the civil-rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, the haters cried bloody murder. (The school board voted to keep the books). Lets hope no one proves Abraham Lincoln was definitely gay or else kids will never know who signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
(Alex Sanchez, Simon & Schuster)
Bigots in Arkansas must have a lot of time on their hands: Parents Protecting the Minds of Children, the same cabal that wanted Coming Out in College banned, cried foul over this young-adult book series, which featured gay-teen protagonists and the kind of language most teens use. But they were just some of the titles on the list of 55 books PPMC petitioned to be removed from school libraries. You gotta wonder if The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was on that list—Jim and Huck spend an awful lot of time together rafting down the river. We’re just saying.
Stuck Rubber Baby
(Howard Cruse, DC Comics)
A groundbreaking graphic novel that addressed growing up queer in the South, gay liberation and the advent of the AIDS crisis, Stuck Rubber Baby won Cruse worldwide acclaim and numerous awards. Naturally, the Library Patrons of Texas weren’t having it and demanded it be pulled from local libraries. The book was moved to the adult section of the library, but not banned. Score one for us!