There are a lot of reasons why a state or a country might decide to ban a book, but given freedom of speech in the United States, the practice is highly unusual. It has gotten more common during the past few years, but the biggest reason why states, or organizations, decide to ban a book is that the book is considered to be offensive in some way. For example, states might decide to ban a book if people get concerned that the ideas are harmful to the growth of children. There are some locations that might decide to ban a book because they run counter to the political ideology of the location. There are some states that are more inclined to ban books than others.
Book bans have been growing in the past few years. Parents and community groups have made complaints at school board meetings and directly to school administration, demanding books be removed from classrooms, libraries, and school reading lists. Most of these complaints target books that have characters of color or those that identify as LGBT, and deal with issues of race or discrimination.
In the 2021-22 school year, over 2,500 book bans were enacted. This affected students in almost 140 school districts across 32 states. The trend of increasing book bans has continued into the 2022-23 school year as well.
Without a doubt, Texas is the state that has banned the most books. In total, Texas has banned more than 800 books in 22 school districts. This does not mean that someone is not allowed to read those books in the state; however, it does mean that those books are going to be removed from all public school libraries. The governor has specifically targeted books that he claims depict pornography, which can be subjective, and has also instructed schools to remove books that have other content he deems obscene.
Florida is the state with the second-most number of banned books during the 2021-22 school year. Five hundred and sixty-six books were banned in twenty-one of the state’s school districts. Florida is led by Governor Ron DeSantis, who is one of the main people leading the charge against what he calls critical race theory. Therefore, many of the books that he has targeted have to do with issues related to race. It is important to note that critical race theory is not taught outside of upper-level college and law school classes. Right now, it is unclear whether any of these bans are going to face legal challenges, but the bans have only made people more passionate on both sides of the debate, which might lead to more vitriol down the road.
Pennsylvania is another state that has had many book bans. In total, Pennsylvania has banned approximately 457 books. The list has gotten significantly longer during the past few years, and many of Pennsylvania counties have banned books centering on people of color. During the past few years, there has been a lot of concern about teaching students about racism and the history of the United States. Some states are concerned that these books teach children to be ashamed if they are white, which is the pretense for banning many of these books. It is an issue of political debate, and it has caused people to get more involved with a local school board.