November 7, 2019 Santa Cruz, California – Various books by different authors for sale at Bookshop Santa CruzPhoto: Shutterstock
A 10-year-old girl is making sure LGBTQ books are available in her Louisiana town. Cora Newton set up her Little Queer Library lending box in the town of Lafayette recently and hopes to stock it with LGBTQ-themed books as well as other books that have been banned.
“I think there should be all kinds of books in the library,” she told The Acadiana Advocate. “There are a lot of people who are LGBTQ. I think people would like to see books they’re like, too.”
Related: LGBTQ authors of banned books speak out on why their stories matter
Newton was inspired to create her Little Queer Library, which she painted with the LGBTQ Pride flag, after attending a Lafayette Public Library Board of Control meeting with her mother.
The board met to discuss banning certain books, including Juno Dawson’s This Book is Gay, after the director of the Lafayette-based conservative group Citizens for a New Louisiana filed a complaint about the book. Though the motion to remove the books from public libraries failed, library director Danny Gillaine said that all nonfiction teen books would be moved to the adult nonfiction sections.
Gillaine also recently directed library managers to stop creating book displays for Pride and Black History months.
Newton worries that actions like this make it harder for young people to find LGBTQ-themed books at their local libraries. But she’s hopeful that her Little Queer Library will prevent future attempts to ban similar books.
“I hope that if the library sees this there will really be no point in banning LGBTQ books and so they won’t actually do it,” she said.
In recent months, conservatives have been attempting to crack down on books about LGBTQ issues, along with books about racism. Across the country, parents and politicians are petitioning school boards and proposing laws to severely limit the type of content children can access at school. In some states, laws have been proposed that would criminalize librarians and other school staff if they don’t remove certain books from the shelves.
Conservatives have claimed these books are inappropriate or even pornographic and that parents deserve more control over what their children can access, even though many people in these towns have argued that books with similar heterosexual scenes don’t face the same scrutiny. In many cases, their fights have been successful.
This Book is Gay appears on a list of books that anti-LGBTQ group MassResistance aims to get banned from public schools and libraries. The Southern Poverty Law Center identifies MassResistance as a hate group.
As George M. Johnson, whose memoir All Boys Aren’t Blue has been targeted, told LGBTQ Nation recently, “We live in a country where any story that is not centering some white, cis, heterosexual young boy or young girl… are not books they deem as acceptable and worthy.”