Is it just me, or is there a lot going on with censorship right now?
There's Young Adult author Ellen Hopkins' reverse invitation to a Texas Book festival (they invited her, then withdrew the invitation). Then there was that mess regarding Glen Beck's 9.12 Project getting books pulled from school--and even public--libraries without any formal book challenge. I wrote a report on this backlash against (primarily) LGBT lit, and it's featured on the Red Room home page all this week. You can read it here. And it's almost Banned Books Week (September 25th through October 2nd, 2010).
But there is a bright spot in all of this. Some interesting and important groups and projects have emerged. Well, emerged to me. They've probably been around for quite awhile. But I'm now lucky enough to have discovered them.
One is the Kids' Right To Read Project, sponsored by the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression and the National Coalition Against Censorship.
Another is The Trevor Project, a suicide and crisis prevention organization aimed at gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth.
In case you're wondering how important that is, gay teens are four times more likely to attempt suicide than straight teens (I source that statistic in my Red Room piece). I'm not as sure of the statistics for transgender youth. But I guarantee you, it's not good.
It's amazing sometimes how little it can take to bring someone back from the edge. One person who listens. Even a book that lets you spend time with a positive character. Someone who's like you.
So, you decide. Which is more important? Whether or not kids hear one of seven "cuss words" before a certain age? Whether they're reading about someone's sexuality, something they were swimming in on the Internet before they picked up the book? Or whether LGBT teens live or die?
Worth rethinking. And retalking. Comments welcome.