This year’s Banned Books Week is now in our past but that doesn’t mean concern over the growing right-wing movement to censor our nation’s school libraries and classrooms should be put on the back burner.
Judging by the latest data, it appears that Americans aren’t going to forget about the importance of the issue. A recent poll conducted by Embold Research and commissioned by the nonprofit EveryLibrary Institute found that 75% of voters are opposed to the right-wing efforts underway to ban books – and that they will consider those bans when voting in the midterm elections.
According to a banned book report by PEN America that looked at the 2021-22 school year (July 2021-June 2022), there were 2,532 instances of individual books being banned in the U.S. That number includes 1,648 unique titles by 1,261 different authors and nearly 4 million students are enrolled in the districts included in the report.
These bans, which are being organized by Republicans and right-wing activist groups, are preventing millions of children from getting the opportunity to learn about important, necessary – and sometimes even controversial – themes.
Of the books banned this past school year, 41% had LGBTQ+ themes, 40% had prominent characters of color, 22% had sexual content and 21% had titles addressing issues of race and racism. Many books addressed more than one theme.
The Embold Research/EveryLibrary poll also asked participants about four different types of books and their opposition to banning them. Ninety-three percent of voters are opposed to banning classic novels, 91% are opposed to banning children’s books, 72% of those polled oppose banning books focused on race and 59% oppose banning books focused on sexuality.
Opposition to book bans even transcends political parties – 95% of Democrats, 80% of independents and even 53% of Republicans oppose banning books.
These numbers may be surprising to many considering the way a very vocal minority pushes the idea of censorship in schools and libraries, but the data is very clear – people don’t like banning books and they don’t want politicians doing it.
Republicans, as they often do, think they have a winning issue here, but the reality is that they are very publicly supporting something a majority of Americans clearly don’t agree with.