These books and authors were the biggest challenge in Louisiana libraries

Conservatives have turned Louisiana libraries into their 2022 battleground, with dozens of book challenges handed out in parishes across the state. The objections primarily related to titles for children and young people with LGBTQ themes.

The Louisiana Illuminator requested copies of requests sent last year to libraries in all 64 parishes. Most responded, and the vast majority said they had not received requests to remove books from the shelves.

Only five parish libraries reported receiving requests to remove or relocate books: Calcasieu, East Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Livingston and St. Tammany.

St. Tammany received the most challengeswith more than 150 submitted applications.

This analysis includes eight books Livingston Parish Library Board of Control member Erin Sandefur mentioned at the July board meeting but they were not officially challenged. Sandefur said she plans to file motions for reconsideration.

The most challenging books

More than 100 books were targeted for removal or moved to the adults-only section. These six books received the most challenges, although any book received a maximum of four.

“Flamer” Mike Curato (4 challenges)

“Flamer” is a semi-autobiographical graphic novel for young adults about Curato’s experience growing up gay.

One complaint, submitted by a resident of St. Tammany’s Jacki Schneider argued the book should be removed because it “promotes sexual activity and violence among our young people.”

“Its content is pornographic,” Schneider added.

“Gender Queer” by Maia Kobaba (4 challenges)

“Gender Queer” is an autobiographical novel about Kobabe’s journey with gender identity and sexual orientation. The book was the most challenging book in the united states in 2021according to the American Library Association.

Connie Phillips, manager of St. The Tammany Parish Library Accountability Project, a conservative activist group, disputed the book. She claimed it violated state obscenity laws.

“Sex is a funny word” by Cory Silverberg (4 challenges)

“Sex is a funny word” comic is designed to teach children about bodies, gender and sexuality. The book is illustrated by Fiona Smyth.

Resident of St. Tammany’s Frances W. Smith disputed the book, writing, “Sex is not a funny word… It can be used to compromise [sic] people, they seduce little children and totally mess with their minds for the rest of their lives.”

Smith added that she does not believe it is necessary to teach young children about the subject.

“Almost Perfect” by Brian Katcher (3 challenges)

“Almost Perfect” is a novel for young adults about a transgender teenager.

Contacted by the Illuminator for comment, Katcher said in a statement that he thinks his book is often targeted because it won the Stonewall Children’s Book Award, which is given by the American Library Association for LGBTQ books.

“I’d almost bet that’s how I ended up on the cull list,” Katcher said. “Not because a group of concerned citizens read ‘Almost Perfect’ and thought it was inappropriate, but because the title came up in a web search.

“I wonder how a transgender teenager would feel, knowing that people think their sexuality and gender identity is something to be censored,” Katcher added.

“Jay’s Gay Agenda” by Jason June (3 challenges)

“Jay’s Gay Plan” is a romance novel for young adults about a gay high school student.

“The book was so stereotypical of what ‘gay’ is,” Schneider wrote in the challenge. “Then it was unnecessary to focus on different religions regarding his ‘gayness’.”

“Tricks” by Ellen Hopkins (3 challenges)

“Trikovi” is a novel for young adults about a group of troubled teenagers. It touches on the topics of sex and drug use.

Rosalind Murr, resident of St. Tammany, contested the book, claiming it violated child obscenity laws.

The most problematic authors

A review of library records revealed that 92 authors were subject to challenges. Three authors were the most frequent targets.

Ellen Hopkins

Hopkins received 14 challenges for nine books, making her the most challenged author in Louisiana. Prosecutors contested that her works, many of which are classified as juvenile novels, are too sexual for minors.

Many of the complainants do not even have children in the counties where they file their complaints,” Hopkins said in a statement to the Illuminator. “Most have not even read the books. They find them on cultivated lists, along with “reasons” to withdraw them.”

“The current wave of book banning/censorship is a well organized political movement that has little to do with caring for our children,” added Hopkins.

Sarah Maas

Maas received 10 challenges for six of her books, primarily those from the “Court of Thrones and Roses” series. The challenges argued that the books were too mature for minors.

Colleen Hoover

Hoover received six challenges for five of her books. It appears that the complaints about Hoover’s books, all filed in the parish of St. Tammany, copied and pasted. The form submitted for each book states the same reason for the challenge: “It’s obscene. Children should not be allowed to read it. Against the law.”

Other authors who received multiple challenges include Mike Curato and Maia Kobaba, who each received four challenges for their LGBTQ graphic novels, and Heather Corinna, Izabela RotmanJason June, Lauren Myracle and Brian Katcher, who won three challenges each.

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