library books with rainbow labels
Books with LGBTQ themes are amongst the most challenged in the country.

Is there a war on books in America?

From comics depicting the holocaust to literature with LGBTQ themes, book challenges in schools and public libraries have seriously ramped up in the last few years, fueled in part by conservative-leaning faith groups who fear that children might be exposed to inappropriate content. 

Some are even taking things a step further; one Virginia school board suggested literally burning books they find offensive.

Considering all that, it’s not surprising that yet another public library – this time, the library system in Lafayette, Louisiana – announced that they’ll be banning book displays for “controversial topics” like Pride Month, Black History Month, and Women’s History Month.

But this ban has a twist: the Lafayette library director says he’s preemptively banning these displays to save the books themselves.

A Novel Idea

“I’m doing this because everything’s a fight,” explained Lafayette's Library Director, Danny Gillane. “And if I put these books out right now, I feel like I am inviting people to challenge these books.”

According to Gillane, the Lafayette library system has already had three challenges this year, including two books and one documentary film. 

The first challenged title was “This Book is Gay” by Juno Dawson, a nonfiction work aimed at teens that talks about various gender identities, sexualities, and general LGBTQ issues. Before the library board (which has shown enthusiasm for banning content) could vote on what to do about the book challenge, Gillane went ahead and moved all teenage non-fiction books to the adult section.

Banning all displays that could conceivably be controversial to someone – Pride, Black History Month, Women’s History Month, and so on – is another act of self-censorship intended to prevent a worse outcome: the books being locked behind the counter, or taken off of library shelves altogether.

In a memo sent to library managers explaining the move, he wrote, “we want to take the spotlight away from anything considered political and focus on what the library does best: Providing programs and services to everyone in Lafayette Parish. Period.”

Accidental Discrimination?

It’s a Hail Mary move to keep the likelihood of book challenges as low as possible. But considering the new rule is going into effect at the start of Pride Month, not everyone’s thrilled with this new ‘out of sight, out of mind’ strategy.

“This is viewpoint discrimination,” insists the president of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays Lafayette (PFLAG) Matthew Humphrey. “Denying representation to any minority community at the public library will not go unanswered. We are not afraid to sue.”

The admin for a Layafette anti-censorship Facebook page cosigned that sentiment, saying: “For a library that’s ridiculous. It goes against everything a library is supposed to stand for.”

It’s certainly an interesting strategy, and a potential solution to a problem librarians across the country have no doubt been frustrated with for the past couple of years.

But critics say that refusing to celebrate marginalized communities, for fear that someone, anyone, might see the display and be offended is not acceptable. 

What do you think? Will the plan work? When faced with community members who want to ban "offensive" books, how should librarians react? 

35 comments

  1. Chris's Avatar Chris

    I can appreciate the desire to save books from being burned and destroyed by zealots. I don't necessarily agree with this idea, though. Bigotry and hatred should always be met with information and intelligence. I do find it interesting, though, these book-haters don't trust teachers to choose what to teach but do trust them to carry weapons around their children. It shows how little they actually value knowledge.

    1. Douglas W Challenger's Avatar Douglas W Challenger

      I didn't notice anything in the article that said any books would be unavailable, just not displayed for a specific purpose. As I understand it, the books would still be available for anyone to read and assess it's value to the reader. Safeguarding the integrity of the library's purpose as a repository of literature and knowledge, not a political platform, seems reasonable to me.

      1. Richard Darwin Richards's Avatar Richard Darwin Richards

        Excellent point Minister Douglas!

    2. Rev Mark D's Avatar Rev Mark D

      Lots of governments don't like teachers, and sometimes just because yes indeed they have been indoctrinated or doing doctorate on a leftist basis. I know this from personal experience, from growing up in a family full of educators, and understanding something about teacher instruction and universities, which was part of my family. There is a certain amount of belief that turns into politicization. It's understandable. The truth is there is no such thing as non-politic education, one way or another. Even among people who believe they are not political. That's just the way it works out because "political" is there somewhat arbitrary convention. Of course everything is political, political means people if you go back to the original Greek word of origin, "polis." How can anything not be political? Answer: even trying not to be political is actually political. That's just the nature of the beast.

  1. Dr. Zerpersande's Avatar Dr. Zerpersande

    Louisiana. It’s a stereotype, I know, but that State is full of religiously delusional citizens with lots of sacks and lots of hammers.

    1. Robert James Ruhnke's Avatar Robert James Ruhnke

      I think that’s just the South in general. Closeted hatred is their creed. It’s fed to them in their mother’s Mountain Dew at birth.

      1. Dr. Zerpersande's Avatar Dr. Zerpersande

        That’s rather much the case for all groups of people. It’s why in America most people accept christian beliefs and the prejudices that go along with that ‘gang’. In America their stupidity revolves a guy riding a winged horse into heaven. Very little of the nonsense peculiar to they South stuck to me. I do like Mountain Dew though.

  1. Matthew Mastrogiovanni's Avatar Matthew Mastrogiovanni

    G.D. conservatives are a bunch of hypocrites and are a blankety-blank hate group.

    1. Gerard Babin Usmc-Dav's Avatar Gerard Babin Usmc-Dav

      Fact is that most conservatives are bible raised Christians. There is no chapter or verse in any Christian bible that permits "alternative lifestyles" as "GOD created them male and female he created them" doesnt sit well with any group seeking mainstream "acceptance". And this is how it should be. Perverts seeking to indoctrinate children should be chemically castrated. But in the end GOD has other plans for them and that's one party I'd pay to watch!

  1. Lisa Rose Morton's Avatar Lisa Rose Morton

    I find the behavior of these people abominable. Hiding literature on black history month, women's women's history month, and gay and lesbian literature It is something like what Hitler did, deciding what was right or wrong for everyone. And particularly like the pastor who believes that gays should be executed. This is like the people who believe pets should not be abused and yet want to ban people who are not just like them. Perhaps they can be convicted of Hate Crimes Instead of loving your neighbor as yourself.

  1. Clay Serenbetz's Avatar Clay Serenbetz

    Let's live in ignorance and fear, burn books. NOT!

  1. Nicholas J Page's Avatar Nicholas J Page

    What next burn educational books etc This is how we learn about history why is there so much hatered in the States

  1. Krystina S.'s Avatar Krystina S.

    This shows the moral bankruptcy of a public entity which says that LGBTQ+, Black, and Women's books are "controversial." What about Christian and other mythologies/religions? Holidays? (surely Halloween!) Would they consider books about the Holocaust "controversial" too? Paleontology, such as books on dinosaurs for elementary school kids (some of their favorites)- cuz some believe Earth is only 6000 years old? (LOL) Or actual American History, not the revisionist (Gawd Blessed the European Masters to Come and Conquer) but the truthful version? I guess anything not supporting a certain Eurocentric, Christofascist world view just shouldn't exist? When we decide that we can "celebrate" Columbus Day, but not Indigenous Peoples, or Black History, or the history of half of humanity? WWJD? Jesus would embrace all, with all our uniquenesses. He would celebrate, not repudiate. Hypocrisy is big with these ones.

  1. HARVEY Bailey's Avatar HARVEY Bailey

    It's call burning the books! Already been done in Germany! Also burned millions of the Jewish Race ! So lets keep an open and fee society!

  1. Rev. Rory's Avatar Rev. Rory

    A library should include everything. If you don't' like it, don't check it out or read it.

  1. Brian George Thomas's Avatar Brian George Thomas

    Good, books of this nature should absolutely be banned.

  1. Brian George Thomas's Avatar Brian George Thomas

    Good, Pride should be totally banned.

    1. Robert James Ruhnke's Avatar Robert James Ruhnke

      Why? Because you think religious beliefs trump everyone else’s free will? Nah. I don’t follow your religion. Why should I or anyone follow rules that you choose to follow?

  1. Rev Ned's Avatar Rev Ned

    Conservative "thinkers" must think their kids are very weak minded. They seem to think that if their kids are exposed to 1 or 2 books that have gay characters, their kids will "choose" to become gay.

    Gay kids are bombarded with straight characters and remain gay. Do they have more strength of character than the book banners?

    It is a puzzlement.

  1. Rev Mark D's Avatar Rev Mark D

    Schools should not be about any form of indoctrination, they're about education. So introduction of books have to be screened for such potential motivations. That's the heart of a democracy and a republic.

  1. Rev Mark D's Avatar Rev Mark D

    History is replete with the repeating example of scapegoating as a social function. That's what we do as animals. And that includes the history of religion and politics time and time again. Look at the function rather than the surface excuses, stories, etc. The function tells you we purge anybody who is different, and we look for differences to manufacture so that we can Purge them. That's biology. Again and again and again.

  1. Richard Darwin Richards's Avatar Richard Darwin Richards

    Libraries should not be promoting ANYTHING of this nature. A library is sacred ground to escape these political displays.

    1. Robert James Ruhnke's Avatar Robert James Ruhnke

      Queerness is more than politics, human rights are more than politics, PRIDE is a story of people fighting for their right to exist on their terms. An by displaying them during PRIDE month, it’s showcasing their stories and struggles. Libraries are sacred, and by being neutral, it means they should display queer stories, to show people that queer stories are human stories.

      1. Richard Darwin Richards's Avatar Richard Darwin Richards

        Libraries should only have books which are sacred, no displays allowed!

        1. David A Griffith's Avatar David A Griffith

          No displays, does that include Christmas and Easter displays? What about patriotic holidays? What is sacred? Any religion can have their books there or only Christian books?

          The Bible should be a banned book. It has murder, sex outside of marriage, homosexual sex, and the list goes on. Why is that book never banned?

          Open your eyes to knowledge, it’s an amazing thing.

          1. Richard Darwin Richards's Avatar Richard Darwin Richards

            No displays, PERIOD, end of story

            1. Robert James Ruhnke's Avatar Robert James Ruhnke

              RDR, you’re boring prude trying use nothing but black and white logical fallacies to back up your nonsense.

      2. Gerard Babin Usmc-Dav's Avatar Gerard Babin Usmc-Dav

        Where in the Bible or the US constitution was it written that alternative relationships are permitted or allowed. These groups have no rights they force their views on other groups and demand that they be accepted. The Bible has dire warnings in store for those that feel otherwise.

        1. Trying TO Log IN Hassle's Avatar Trying TO Log IN Hassle

          Where in the U.S. Constitution is it written that a male and a female are "permitted" the right to marry? For the life of me, even with a degree in Constitutional Law, I can't seem to find it.

          For that matter, why do two adults need the governments "permission" to marry?

  1. Shango MasterExorcist, D.D.'s Avatar Shango MasterExorcist, D.D.

    Wouldn't it be easier to just remove all books on all subjects that are controversial to anybody? Subjects such as Vegetarianism, Jazz, Hypnosis, Meditation, Martial Arts, Politics, Bibles, Atheism, Gambling, Slavery, Vaccines, Religious Education, Secular Education, Communism, Financial Systems, Sales Techniques. All of those and thousands of subjects more are extremely offensive to some people. Take them all out, and let everybody read the three books that are left.

    Two of the three books left would be "Alice in Wonderland", and "How to Calculate the Tension of Wound Piano Strings". Then some are offended by "Alice in Wonderland", as they claim it is strange and must be an opium fantasy. The only thing I cannot remember offending anybody at all is Piano Strings. Queen Victoria declared that piano legs are rude, and must wear dresses.

  1. Michael Barton's Avatar Michael Barton

    That's being dishonest. If the Gay book is culturally significant, or has a purpose other than grooming children, then it can be allowed. But otherwise, no, and no where near children.

  1. Keith's Avatar Keith

    I don’t think libraries should be able to ban books based on content. What my be offensive to one person may not be to another and vice-veresa. Information on any content should be available for people to see if they want. If you are a parent, then it should be up to you to allow your children too see what they can or cannot see, regardless of how it may harm or help them. So those who should be censored are the parents and not the libraries. The libraries are offering information to people so they can learn about things they know nothing about. Therefore, they can make educated decisions about any subject. So sensor the public and not the library.

  1. Trying TO Log IN Hassle's Avatar Trying TO Log IN Hassle

    “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” — Aristotle


    And once again... the ULC "ministers" put on a gowing show of their hipocracy. Funny how the name calling and slander and insults frow freely when the ULC cult gets riled up.

    Persecution is persucution, my Brothers and Sisters. Persecuting the Christians for their beliefs is just as ungodly as persecuting any other religion for their beliefs.

    Of the 260-somthing regognized religions in the world, I certainly don't believe in them all. But they have the right to believe as they wish, whether it be waiting on their 72 virgins or whether it be worshipping a cow, that's their right and I can respect it without buying it.

    What was that ULC motto again?

  1. William McMillian's Avatar William McMillian

    Fahrenheit 451 all over again. The Nazis and Soviet communism burned books and rewrote history to their advantage.

  1. William McMillian's Avatar William McMillian

    The NAZIs and Communists burned books and rewrote history to support their coups. Madeleine Albright’s book on fascism clearly shows how the die is cast and an attempt to discredit the constitution and our right to vote. 45s behavior clearly follows Mussolini and Hitler and their takeover of peoples and countries. It can happen here. America is based in the principle of separation of church and state. Evangelicals and the American Catholic Bishops need to remember that

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:
Don't have an account yet? Create Account