Every year Banned Books Week is celebrated in an effort to underscore the importance of reading and maintaining intellectual freedom. Books that are banned, challenged, or censored over the past year include titles that address LGBTQ+ issues, sexuality, abuse, and profanity. It is important that these books continue to be promoted as libraries of all kinds seek to protect the freedom to read. Although some of the topics highlighted in these banned books may be uncomfortable or controversial, reading banned books is a great way to explore diverse perspectives, critically question societal norms, and gain a deeper sense of empathy for others.

The banning of books is an infringement of intellectual freedom and encroaches on the rights protected by the First Amendment. Books are supposed to be a form of expression and communication for all. Not only do they allow readers to understand the perspectives of others, they serve as a bridge between cultures, nations, and entire ideologies. By removing the right to read certain books, readers are missing out on the access to information that they are owed. Without these banned books many may struggle to find representation of themselves on library shelves.

Read the #1 most challenged book of 2022, “Gender Queer”. This graphic memoir tells the story of Maia Kobabe’s journey of self-discovery and identity. Kobabe’s book has been challenged and censored for “obscene and pornographic materials.” Critics have cited LGBTQ+ indoctrination, grooming, and harm to minors as additional reasons why this book should be banned. This censorship perpetuates a culture of intolerance, ignorance, and discrimination. Not only does this book highlight the importance of acceptance of queer people in a heteronormative world, it takes on the challenges of societal and familial expectations. Gender Queer is an important step forward in the ongoing battle for equality.

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