By Morgan Collins
Recently, there has been much turmoil in the publishing industry over the rewriting of classics such as the Roald Dahl and Dr. Seuss Books. However, in the past year the industry has taken another hit due to an increase in the number of banned books. The extreme increase speaks for itself with 273 books being banned in 2020, 1,597 in 2021, and 1,600 in 2022. This leaves people questioning if Ray Bradbury’s novel, Fahrenheit 451, is becoming a reality. The first step to finding out the reason for the dramatic increase is to look at how books get banned in the first place. Before a book becomes banned it must first be challenged by a private individual, school district, or any other organization. In most cases these challenges stay local and are decided among the board of that particular organization. However, in some rare occurrences the challenging of books has made it to the Supreme Court like the case of Island Trees School District v. Pico in 1982. The outcome of these book challenges determine if the book becomes censored or if it remains in circulation.
The topic of book censorship has also been questioned for constitutionality under the First Amendment right to free speech. The case of Island Trees School District v. Pico ruled that school districts can not ban books simply because it goes against their content regulation. Additionally, in the Sixth Circuit of the First Amendment it protects the rights of students to receive information from books provided to them from general libraries. All of this means that the censorship of books is unconstitutional and raises another question of why are we trusting private individuals and companies with the content students are able to read in schools? In many cases these people have enormous biases that take valuable information away from the populace and leave the people affected in the dark. Many of these biases can be seen in the reasons why the books were censored like religious viewpoints, LGBTAIQ+, different races, ideas of family, and political viewpoints. These topics are exactly the things people should be reading so they can be educated on all sides of issues and not stick to only content that they believe to be safe.
This despotic list of censorship reasons can be seen in the 2022 banned book list. In February of 2022, Parents Magazine released an issue about 11 books that were recently banned from school districts. These included titles like All Boys Aren’t Blue by Geroge M. Johnson, Call Me Max by Kyle Lukoff, What Girls Are Made Of by Elana K. Arnold, and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. All these books were banned because they contained descriptions of homosexuality, transgender children, feminism, and racial gun violence. Frankly, those are not reasons to take that content away from children who identify with these categories. CBS took the article a step further by listing many of the puberty books that were being taken out of schools due to the descriptions of bodies changing. By leaving children uneducated about issues such as puberty they might think that what they are going through isn’t normal, when in reality it’s quite the opposite.
While Connecticut is one of the states that has been deemed a “book sanctuary,” meaning none of the censorship affects our schools or libraries, this is still a cause for alarm. More than 32 states are banning books in their school libraries which is leaving an entire generation ill informed of the world and events around them. Additionally, even though Connecticut is labeled as safe, that status is not permanent and if more people become accustomed to these bans, censorship will occur more frequently and in more states. Organizations like PEN America are trying to curb the increasing statistics of censorship by advocating for free press. As for the general public, we all need to read more diverse books. By doing so you will have a better understanding about the events and people that surround you everyday.