Disclaimer: When you buy from links on our site, we may receive a commission at no additional cost to you. Learn more
The issue of book banning in the USA has been amplified once again after children’s book publisher, Scholastic, created a separate and crucially optional section for its elementary school book fair for books written by and/or about people of color and LGBTQ people.
The decision by Scholastic has sparked fury from groups who oppose book bans as they believe the decision promotes censorship and only encourages lawmakers to try to restrict subjects of race, gender, and sexual orientation in schools.
Books placed in this optional section include “I Color Myself Different,” written by former NFL star Colin Kaepernick, and “I Am Ruby Bridges” by American Civil Rights Activist Ruby Bridges. In a statement explaining their decision, a spokesperson for Scholastic said:
“Because Scholastic Book Fairs are invited into schools, where kids can purchase books on their own, these laws create an almost impossible dilemma: back away from these titles or risk making teachers, librarians, and volunteers vulnerable to being fired, sued or prosecuted.”
The publisher also added that some stories written by LGBTQ authors and authors of Color will be placed into other categories, meaning they won’t be subject to “optional” status.
Facing the critics
The decision has been heavily criticized by advocacy groups who believe the move will only encourage those behind book bans. The American Library Association (ALA) says they have received nearly 700 attempts to censor their material with 1915 books affected.
The ALA says that the vast majority of attempts to censor books in their library relate to titles written by or about a person of color or LGBTQ person. Meanwhile, Color of Change, a racial justice advocacy group have released a statement slamming the decision. It read:
“The inclusion of Black and queer characters, authors, and stories in school book fairs is not optional. We call on Scholastic’s leadership to remove this exclusionary feature and commit to taking meaningful action to protect Black and LGBTQ books.”
The National Black Justice Coalition shared their condemnation of the decision, too. Their statement read:
“Censorship is anti-democratic and undermines one’s freedom to learn. We condemn Scholastic for its decision to segregate books on race, gender, and sexuality at book fairs in a disappointing effort to appease a loud minority using politics to attack children and public schools to turn out voters using ignorance, fear, and hate.”
One of the most scathing criticisms came from Amanda Gorman, an author whose book is set to feature in the optional category. She took to social media site, X, to say that the decision “is not sharing out stories – it’s treating them as separate.”
Scholastic Defends Their Decision
Despite the criticism, Scholastic have effectively said that their hands are tied. They’ve pointed to the fact that over 30 states in the US have either enforced restrictions or are considering them on book content related to race, gender, and/or sexual orientation. They said:
“We cannot make a decision for our school partners around what risks they are willing to take based on the state and local laws that apply to their district.
“We don’t pretend this solution is perfect – but the other option would be to not offer these books at all – which is not something we’d consider. There is a wide range of diverse titles throughout every book fair for every age level. And, we continue to offer diverse books throughout our middle school fairs, which remain unchanged.”
You Might Also Like:
- Books Embracing LGBTQ+ Voices That Face Banning In Some States
- Canceled! 15 Authors Who Faced Backlash For Discriminatory Remarks
Victoria Cornell helps women adopt a positive mindset even when the struggles of motherhood feel overwhelming. On her sites, Motherhood Life Balance, Neon Moon and Bookworm Era she writes about ways to reduce stress with mindset, manifesting, goal planning, productivity, and more.