Book Banned From New Jersey High School Library
May 20, 2010
Eighteen people, who identify as members of talk-radio and TV-personality Glenn Beck’s 9.12 Project, recently complained about three books in a New Jersey high school library. What were they complaining about? How the books dealt with teen sexuality.
The books are Revolutionary Voices: A Multicultural Queer Youth Anthology, Love and Sex: 10 Stories of Truth and The Full Spectrum: A New Generation of Writing About Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, and Other Identities.
The Rancosas Valley Board of Education reviewed the books, and ultimately voted to leave two of the books on the shelves and ban Revolutionary Voices, because it contained more mature content, including the story of a “gay porn star” and an image that 9.12 members took to be a depiction of a sexual act, but that the author says is just one man hiking a football to another.
The whole idea of a school is to educate—to give students information that they can use to think for themselves. But doesn’t taking books off the shelves tell students which ideas are right or wrong?
The truth is that we deal with sexual issues, from puberty to deciding if we are or aren’t ready for sex. We also see sexuality all over popular media, though the information we get from the media isn’t always the most accurate. Books that give the facts about sexuality—and those facts will tell you that not everyone is heterosexual—are incredibly important in a world where the sexualized media (think Gossip Girl or The Secret Life of the American Teenager) is wildly popular. Trying to ban books from a school library because they have no educational value is one thing, but trying to ban books simply because they discuss teen sexuality, including sexual orientation, is simply intolerant.
Ultimately, the Rancosas Valley Board of Education is ensuring that some resourceful teens will likely be hitting Amazon to find Revolutionary Voices.