Their notes have been removed from school libraries in 8 states. This black queer author resists

What knowledge is appropriate for children? What should they not be told? School boards across America have struggled to answer these questions this school year amid a flurry of scrutiny and politicized rhetoric about which books children should be allowed access to.

This fall, the American Library Association experienced an “unprecedented volume of challenges” for books, Olivia B. Waxman from TIME, which centered mostly on examining racial subjects and LGBTQ identities. Among the most targeted books George M. Johnson All Boys Are Not Blue: A Memoir of a Manifesto (2020). Johnson’s Reflections on his Black and queer upbringing has been named Best Book of 2020 by Amazon, New York and Chicago Public Libraries and Kirkus Reviews. was even call Produced by Gabrielle Union-Wade for Series.
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After in the past few months Not all boys are blue It has been removed from school libraries in at least eight states, including Pennsylvania, Florida, Iowa, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Virginia and Texas. On November 9, he was a member of the Flagler County School Board, Florida Foot A criminal report with the local sheriff argues that the book’s inclusion in three county school libraries violated state obscenity laws because it contained sexual graphic material, including descriptions of same-sex sex and masturbation.

Time spoke with Johnson on Wednesday about the challenges facing their book, the recent rise in censorship and its message to fans.

What was your goal when you wrote these notes?

Courtesy of Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers

Leading my life is Toni Morrison’s quote: “If there’s a book you want to read that hasn’t been written yet, write it.” I was writing the book I hoped to have as a young man, struggling with the intersections between my blackness and my neighborhood, trying to navigate a society that wasn’t built for me.

I also thought it was important for people to start knowing that this world exists outside a heterosexual bubbleSo that people who are not like us can also recognize people who are not like them. I think it’s really important for white boys and girls and everyone else to start getting to know us too.

What was your first reaction when you learned that your book had been removed in some school district?

I knew this would always happen. Before the book was released, my team had a meeting about what we were going to do when the book was banned, because I brought it up. I know the landscapes we live in. So for me not only to be, but to have the audacity to tell my story… [the people behind these bans] They were going at some point to try and shut it down.

How do you respond to allegations that your book is “sexually explicit”, and should be banned for this reason?

It’s deceptive for multiple reasons. There is a misconception that this book is intended for children – they use language like, “Do you think an eight-year-old should read this?” And my answer is No, that is why it is aimed at children between the ages of 14 and 18.

We also have to stop pretending that my book is what it delivers [a] child for sex. it’s not like that. [A] The 14-year-old, by the time they read my book, may have already had sex. So their reading of a sex scene is about their own experience, in their own lives.

The part that’s also been overlooked is that I’m talking about sex education. I’m talking about approval. I’m talking about the agency. And I’m using my story to teach kids the mistakes I made the first time I had sex, so they wouldn’t make the same mistakes. I teach kids not to feel guilt when sexual abuse happens, and how to recognize sexual abuse – most teens don’t even realize they’ve been abused. And how to withstand those shocks that you can withstand for a very long time. So they leave very important context, on purpose of course, to try and argue that my book is porn.

Books with heavy subjects will not hurt children. Kids still have to exist in a world full of these heavy topics, and they will be moved by them whether or not they read the book. take [this] Despite this, it gives them the tools, language, resources, and education so that they have a roadmap for how to deal with it when they have to deal with a heavy subject.

Your diary is very honest and candid about your experience as an eccentric. How did it feel to have something honest and vulnerable about your experience being the focus of such a campaign?

People say the negative press is still pressing! But I don’t necessarily feel that this is negative journalism. Because what I’m seeing is the beautiful outcome of that: Students gather, students sign petitions, students activate their rights – which is what my book teaches them to do. My book tells them that the first person you should be an activist for is yourself.

I have been in frequent contact with students from multiple countries who organize gatherings. We make sure they have books, we make sure they have supplies, we make sure they’re okay. And I share their campaigns to make sure they are amplified.

As did my colleague Olivia Waxman mentionedThe American Library Association is experiencing an unprecedented amount of book challenges this school year. What do you think of this trend?

Whites are now so afraid that they are losing their grip on the majority. White publishing is not a profitable business as it used to be. Black and brown books are turned into TV shows [and movies]. They win prizes. They are now beginning to make bigger profits in the market. Only 15-20 years ago, it was hard to find gay books in youth [section]. And now you have a whole bunch of them, right? I say they attack books because books have always stood the test of time.

What do you want fans of your book to know about how to respond to these challenges?

The best way they can respond is to buy the book. Equal sales visibility, which equals accessibility – it doesn’t matter if you remove it from the library, because we know young people can still access it.

The second thing is to correct misinformation. when you see people [sharing] Wrong information about the books you read, correct them.

And the last thing is, [supporters and allies] They must vote locally. These school boards are awful. People must understand that politics is not just a national game. It is a local game. And people should become more invested in voting for the people who actually make the decisions for the society in which they live.

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