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Monday, August 15, 2022
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Texas ‘Banned Camp’ Promotes Explict Books


Interior stairs of the Austin Public Library | Image by Austin American Statesman

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Austin Public Library has collaborated with BookPeople, Texas’ largest independent bookseller, to offer “Banned Camp” this summer, inviting readers to explore books that have been banned or challenged. Various Banned Camp events are being hosted around the Austin area throughout the summer.

“We like the forbidden, and we think you should too,” the event flyer said.

The Banned Camp kicked off in June with a meet-the-author event at the Carver branch of the Austin Public Library. Author George M. Johnson, a journalist and LGBTQ activist, explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia in his book All Boys Aren’t Blue.

The book was number three on the American Library Association’s Ten Most Challenged Books of 2021 List.

All Boys Aren’t Blue serves as a primer for teens eager to be allies as well as a reassuring witness for young queer men of color, covering topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent, and Black joy,” the event description claims, adding that young adults will be drawn to Johnson’s emotionally honest writing style.

“Libraries exist to give people access to all kinds of information, stories, and ideas, and unfortunately, that is increasingly under threat. This summer-long series of fun and informative events will highlight the importance of the freedom to read and why Austin Public Library stands against censorship and book banning,” said Austin Public Library Director Roosevelt Weeks.

“We are very excited to be able to offer this series of events for the community to celebrate the freedom to read and free and open access and exchange of ideas,” Weeks added.

Mary Elizabeth Castle, senior policy advisor for Texas Values, is not one of those excited by the camp.

“Parents of Texas have already spoken out against the explicit books that are being read in public schools across the state,” she told The Dallas Express. “That is why hundreds of parents showed up at the state Capitol last week to let legislators know that the schools are exposing their children to inappropriate materials without consent. The event at the Austin Public Library is political posturing with bad motives to expose kids to X-rated materials.”

Castle said the event is similar to the Spring Break “sex ed camp” proposed in Austin last March.

“Austin Public Health was paying and soliciting kids for $100 each to learn about LGBTQ sex and ‘comprehensive sex education,'” she said. “That camp was shut down as soon as parents learned about it. I suspect the same will happen with this program.”

Censorship and book banning has been a hot topic of controversy in Texas over the past year.

When Cyrena Nolan, a Dallas resident, heard some parents were pushing for banning certain books in the Dallas Independent School District libraries in February, she initially dismissed the complaints as the worries of overreacting “zealots.”

When she dug deeper, she — like many parents around the country — felt that the content of the books was improper for young students to be required to read.

“I felt it was totally inappropriate,” she told The Dallas Express after reading Gender Queer, written by Maia Kobabe. “It deals with sex toys and things like that, and [the fact that it could] get into an 11-year-old’s hands — it shocked me.”

Gender Queer is number one on the American Library Association’s Ten Most Challenged Books of 2021 List.

“As a [Coppell] resident of 34 years [with] 11 grandchildren, I’m here to bring truth to why Gender Queer should be permanently removed from this library,” said Pamela Canterbury at a City of Coppell meeting on the graphic novel, The Dallas Express reported. “This book and others are inappropriate for the eyes of young people and adults. That’s why parents and grandparents across America are waking up to let their voices of disapproval be heard concerning the sexual content and destruction of this book.”

In October 2021, Texas Republican State Representative Matt Krause requested information from the Texas Education Agency on whether any of the state’s schools have the books listed on a 16-page spreadsheet, as well as the amount of money spent on them. One of the books on the 16-page list was Gender Queer.

After at least two state lawmakers asked officials to investigate the books in schools, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called on the state’s school boards to remove books he described as “pornographic” the following November, The Dallas Express reported.

The Austin Public Library Banned Camp events will conclude on August 17 with a “Bonding With Books” discussion.

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9 days ago

‘Overeacting zealots’ is the message that the captured media around the state (95% of our regional outlets) has been pushing.

Kudos to DExpress for informing on some of the more relevant details related to this issue. Details that have been concealed by the usual, remarkably unremarkable suspects.

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