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America's Most Banned Book, George, Is About a Trans Girl

Banned Books

Some of the "most challenged books" in the United States are LGBTQ stories, according to a new report from the American Library Association.

In fact, the State of America's Libraries report outlined how the majority of the top 11 books that were challenged, banned, or relocated with libraries, schools, and universities in 2018 have queer themes. The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) tracks these challenges each year.

Topping this list is George, an award-winning, young-adult novel by Alex Gino that centers on a transgender girl's coming-of-age story. 

George, according to the ALA report, is "believed to encourage children to clear browser history and change their bodies using hormones." Complaints against the book included its "mentioning 'dirty magazines,' describing male anatomy, 'creating confusion,' and including a transgender character."

A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo is the second most challenged book on this year's list. Penned by Jill Twiss — a writer on John Oliver's Last Week Tonight — the book centers on a rabbit owned by Vice President Mike Pence and his relationship with another male rabbit. All proceeds from the book's sales benefit The Trevor Project and AIDS United, but many objected to its "LGBTQIA+ content, and for political and religious viewpoints," according to the ALA.

The Captain Underpants series, Drama, This Day in June, and Two Boys Kissing are also LGBTQ-inclusive books in the ALA's top 11 list. The ALA included 11 books this year, instead of the usual 10, because This Day in June and Two Boys Kissing "tied for the final position," according to the report.

Additionally, both of these books were "burned by a religious activist in Orange City, Iowa, in October to protest the city’s OC Pride event," the report noted. "OIF expanded the list to include both, in order to spotlight the repressive intolerance exemplified by the act of book burning and to remember that 'he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself' (John Milton, Areopagitica)."

This trend of banning queer books is nothing new, according to Deborah Caldwell-Stone, the interim director of the ALA's OIF.

“Books for youth with LGBTIQ+ content are consistently on our list of most challenged books; this trend goes back to the mid-1990’s, when Nancy Garden’s Annie on my Mind was banned by a school board in Texas,” said Caldwell-Stone in a statement. “That said, we are noticing a greater number of challenges to books with LGBTIQ+ content, especially those that have transgender characters and themes.”

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