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To celebrate Pride Month the White House has announced a number of measures to support LGBTQIA+ communities. The initiatives include the appointment of a new coordinator within the Department of Education’s office for civil rights who will “work to provide new trainings for schools nationwide on how book bans that target specific communities and create a hostile school environment may violate federal civil rights laws”.
In a briefing note to the media, the White House said: “Across the country, our nation faces a spike in book bans – efforts that disproportionately strip books about LGBTQI+ communities, communities of colour, and other communities off of library and classroom shelves. In fact, 2022 saw the highest number of book bans in 20 years. Book banning erodes our democracy, removes vital resources for student learning, and can contribute to the stigma and isolation that LGBTQI+ people and other communities face.”
The announcement has received support from the American Library Association (ALA). Its president, Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada said: “We are heartened by the Biden-Harris Administration’s leadership to address the alarming rise in book bans and other attacks on LGBTQIA+ Americans that aim to stigmatize and erase the voices of the LGBTQIA+ community. Everyone deserves the opportunity to see themselves and their family reflected in the books in their library’s collection. Those books are a safe place, with stories that validate their experience and where they find acceptance, hope and can see a future.”
Earlier this year the ALA reported 1,269 demands to censor library books and resources in 2022, the highest number of attempted book bans since the ALA began compiling data about censorship in libraries more than 20 years ago, and nearly double the number of challenges recorded in 2021. The ALA notes that the vast majority of works challenged were written by or about members of the LGBTQIA+ community and people of colour.