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Books ‘obscene’ Prohibit harming students in line, readers of color

A woman of color reading a book

This story features explicit erotic imagery from a graphic novel.

Truly worrisome times are ahead for school systems in the United States. Call for censorship are on the rise in school board meetings, with cries from parents to appeal to LGBTQ memoirs and Black writers. What once started as a classic case of parents censoring reading material for the children of other families has flown into far more dangerous territory, after a right-wing militia Violence assaults Illinois school board meeting to harassing students in favor of a transgender writer’s memoirs.

These growing demands to draw out vulnerable voices from libraries and school curricula are accompanied by promises of violence. Now the government is intervening in the situation, but for marginalized writers and students, politicians are not on their side.

In November, Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) appeal to state educational institutions to “ensure that no Texas child is exposed to pornographic or obscene content while attending a Texas public school.” The Republican Governor of South Carolina, Henry McMaster, similarly asked his state’s Department of Education to remove non-binary artists and writers. Maia Kobabe’s Memoirs of Coming of Age Queer’s Gender for having “obscene and pornographic” material that could “harm our children or interfere with their path as they grow up.” While, Republican Legislators in Georgia is drafting a bill for next year to “ensure obscene material has no place in public schools.” And perhaps most shockingly, the president of the Iowa Senate, also a Republican, has argued that schools provide “obscene” books to their students. will face serious sin, announced that Iowa’s legislative chambers were ready to make that aspirational policy a reality.

Like me discussed earlier for We Got This Covered, public outrage is not well-intentioned. Many specifically targeted “obscene” statements Queer’s Gender, which is far from pornography: The book explores an extraordinary person coming to terms with their gender and sexual identity, including a description of the moment of strap-on oral sex with a partner. However, far-right opponents have equated the book with heavy pornography. One parent even call for criminal prosecution, accusing the book of encouraging pedophilia. That statement is not based on any kind of fact. See the gallery below for the range of Queer’s Gender Content.

(Warning: The gallery includes NSFW images.)

Indeed, all of the obscenity charges target the works of marginalized audiences, challenging the status quo in America. A Texas school district’s high school curriculum moratorium targeted the eerie memoir of Carmen Maria Machado In the house of dreams, which explores the author’s experience of abuse in a lesbian relationship. For lesbians like me, who have also been mistreated by other lesbian women, Machado’s work provides much-needed recognition and recognition. But parent considered Machado’s book and other works obscene, disparaging them as “more graphic and disgusting than a lot of the movies that have come out.”

With Queer’s Gender, other popular books that have been declared erotic include Toni Morrison Love, which explores the grotesque traumas of slavery and its impact on a black family in the late 19th century, and Angie Thomas’s award-winning youth novel The hate you give, which tackles a teenager seeking justice after witnessing his best friend being murdered at the hands of a racist white cop. Both books discuss sex; Love examines how sexual abuse and trauma are related to white supremacist control of Black characters while The hate you give examines a young black woman’s relationship with consent and sexual boundaries between the larger, overarching traumas of police violence throughout the book.

The backlash against these writers of color stems from the growing right-wing antagonism toward works of fiction and fiction that explores how U.S. cultural and institutional forces strengthen attempt to discriminate at the social, economic and cultural levels. Called the critical race theory, the term has since served as a reminder to conservative parents at school board meetings. And while traditional pornographic claims tend to focus on sexual material in books, works like The hate you give and Sherman Alexie’s The Totally True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, both targeted in Iowa, have faced scrutiny for discussing both the sociocultural origins of racism and its protagonists in human relationships. skin color with gender.

The statement “obscene” is not a new sign for censorship watchdogs. “Pornography” works are not protected under the First Amendment, and as such, censorship of pornographic material is generally considered fair game. Proving a work to be pornographic requires meeting the three-pronged Miller test drafted by The First Amendment Encyclopedia, art rating is based on:

whether the average person applying contemporary community standards would find the work, as a whole, to be of particular interest

whether the work depicts or depicts, in a mildly derogatory manner, sexual conduct as specifically identified by applicable state law; and

whether the work as a whole lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.

In a 2008 academic essay, Professor Elizabeth M. Glazer of Hofstra University argues that censorship of homosexual material is not only part of the history of the Miller experiment, but that the doctrine itself “has nurtured the tradition of censoring gay content”. Glazer reveals how porn cases target gay adults when creating adult artwork for other gay adults, as well as gay magazines not only focus on 18+ documents. There is no better example than the 1957 federal appeals court case One, Inc. with. Olesen, when One: Homosexuality Magazine was seized by the Los Angeles postmaster for “obscene, lewd, obscene, and obscene” material. The magazine was one of the first in the US to attempt to accept gay men, leading to accusations of pornography. At the time, the article “Sappho Remembered” by a 21-year-old lesbian was deemed “cheap pornography” by the judge of the case for celebrating her entry into her own gender.

While cases of pornography have been on the decline over the years, and not all of them end badly for LGBTQ artists, Glazer still emphasizes the “side effect of the use of schooling.” pornography discriminates against gays and lesbians”. 21st century push to describe works and outlandish stories by authors of color as “porn” clearly follows mid-20th century lineage: “Porn” is a legal term , not just a word of strong condemnation. By describing Queer’s Gender is pornography to explore the adult sexual experience of homosexuals, censorship parents can begin building a legal argument to block Kobabe and her work other creators. After all, it’s “obscene” in the eyes of the beholder, and it’s easy for a mob of moderating parents to claim that they represent “contemporary community standards”.

Remember: It’s not just quirky books that parents target as “obscene”. Love outlines specifically the relationship between white supremacy and sexual abuse, as well as how sexual trauma haunts a post-slavery Black family. Obscene statements are similarly beaten for Morrison’s Blue eyes, which explores the relationship between sexual desire, sexual abuse, and white beauty standards. When censors can find a work of Black literature to target and censor for obscene claims, they try to get it off the shelves.

Readers of color have a fundamental right to read and access books by writers like themselves, who can talk about their life experiences and the life experiences of their families. Morrison, a giant in her field, has given many Black students a voice and a ear over the past half century on both, and the world is a much better place for writers. Black skin that she inspired her literature on.

To a similar extent, gay creators also talk to young gay people, often filling in the blanks about the unique experiences of adolescence that we have to go through, experiences that are absent. in classroom discussions about growing up, facing adulthood, navigating gay desires and, yes, even weird sex education. Read Fun house by Alison Bechdel in college made me better understand my own relationship with the weird, and how it’s desirable – to be weird, connect with other weirdos, or simply find see one’s family belonging, chosen or otherwise – not so simple when shame is waiting in the wings.

And yes, censorship for gay readers and readers of color are not two separate issues. No wonder George M. Johnson’s All boys are not blue, a collection of memoirs and essays revolving around black lives, is among a number of books that have faced profanity claims over the past year. Young readers of color face a double bind and are particularly vulnerable in these calls for censorship.

Disadvantaged young people deserve access to these stories. But if conservative politicians and Republican parents get their way, book and porn bans will return across America’s red states. The damage this does to today’s youth is very serious. Censorship will remove disadvantaged youth and children from the voices they most need to hear in their lives, voices that, for writers like me, speak the truth with power when we have no voice. speak.

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