Monday, January 24

Ohio orgs join coalition to protest the attacks on LGBTQ+ books in schools & libraries

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More than 600 groups and individuals have banded together to issue a powerful statement to descry the efforts to ban LGBTQ-inclusive books and books about race and racism.

The statement, created by the National Coalition Against Censorship, is the first national and collective response to the wave of attempted book bans in at least a dozen states. Opponents to the books have also targeted library and school board personnel with personal threats and attempts to co-opt law enforcement to pursue baseless criminal charges against educators and librarians.

Equality Ohio, Kaleidoscope Youth Center, Colors+, Common Cause Ohio, PFLAG Columbus and Literary Cleveland have all signed onto the statement declaring that banning this material  “will not only limit what [youth]can learn, but who they can become.”

“When legislators ban books about LGBTQ+ characters or censor authors like Lorain native Toni Morrison, they aren’t just denying access to important literature, they are diminishing students’ lives,” said Matt Weinkam, Executive Director of Literary Cleveland, a nonprofit supporting writers’ voices. “As it says in the petition: ‘Books help students connect with characters whose stories reflect their own lives. They also widen their view of a changing world that embraces diversity and multiculturalism.’  Literary Cleveland’s mission is to amplify the voices of those who have been overlooked or oppressed, not silence them. That is why it was important for us to sign this petition.”

The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom has tracked 155 unique censorship incidents since June, a rate not seen in decades. This includes the brouhaha in Hudson, Ohio when the mayor suggested the school board should face criminal charges due to a teacher’s use of the book 642 Things to Write About.

Legislatively, House Bill 327 in Ohio would ban school districts and state agencies from teaching various “divisive concepts,” and would withhold state funding to districts that disobeyed this law.

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The Buckeye Flame amplifies the voices of LGBTQ+ Ohioans to support community and civic empowerment through the creation of engaging content that chronicles our triumphs, struggles, and lived experiences.

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