Texas’s book banning has drawn national attention, especially since the majority of books being pulled from the shelves center around LGBTQ and racial themes. It’s nothing new to state that banning books from schools is wrong. But in this century where minority stories have gained the status that they deserve, to stage an attack on these books and then claim that they are too sexual or too mature for younger readers is a claim that simply does not hold up.

When most people are discussing “children,” they don’t actually mean just elementary school aged children, but middle schoolers and high school students who are now young adults. The majority of the books that are being banned are found in the classrooms and libraries of middle and high school students who are mature enough to understand the content within it. Some Texan parents stated that the books that are no better than “pornography” were riddling the shelves of their children’s schools. 

However, these were more than likely middle school and, more likely, high school students who had access to age-appropriate material. If this were truly the case, this concern would absolutely have legs to stand on; young children in elementary school should not have access to books that discuss sexual or mature topics. But high school students will know about these topics even if parents don’t want them to, and it is better they read about these acts in a safe way via a book rather than something more insidious like the internet.

The argument against some of these banned books would also have more teeth if the majority of the books being banned didn’t center around LGBTQ people. Knowing how the public can sometimes react toward stories featuring LGBTQ people or youth, it is likely that these books feature little more than some kissing between LGBTQ people and little more. But since this doesn’t align with the beliefs some parents hold, these parents deem it “pornographic” in order to shelter their children from these important topics. 

The discussion around teaching critical race theory in schools has risen in the last two years as Black Lives Matter has strongly taken hold in the American consciousness. While many states are debating whether to include it, the removal of books that discuss CRT or BLM in Texan schools feels like a very targeted way of sheltering children from important discussions about race. Though elementary schoolers don’t have to be exposed to the severe violence that occurs because they may not be mature enough to handle it, there is most definitely a way to have age-appropriate conversations with children about serious topics at any age. Books are often some of the best ways to go about this. Though they can be biased, it is safe to say that the amount of editing and the number of people who look over a published book means that it is a safer source to learn from than something unchecked and published by anyone on the internet. 

The fact is that whether parents like it or not, banning books is not going to stop their children from learning about these topics. Fining librarians for even having books on these topics in the first place won’t stop children from learning about these topics, via literature or otherwise. If parents are so concerned about finding appropriate ways to introduce these topics to children, librarians and teachers can attempt to craft and hold age-appropriate lessons or discussions centered around these topics. 

These stories and these groups of people are not going to disappear just because books about them are removed from libraries. But it will damage a generation of kids who might identify with these stories and take comfort in them. It will also damage kids who are not of these identities because they will grow up ignorant of the severity of the issues these communities face. While no elementary school or even middle school child should have unrestricted access to books that deal with heavy sexual topics, children deserve exposure to diverse communities so they can be future leaders who are inclusive and welcoming. 

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