Illinois To Ban Banning Books, Including Gender Queer
Bleeding Cool has spent months covering book bans in American libraries. And more often than not, graphic novel Gender Queer is the focus.
Bleeding Cool has spent months covering, repeatedly, the rise of New Puritan book bans in American libraries, and the politics that surround them, that focus on books involving sexual orientation, gender identity and race relations. And more often than not, the graphic novel Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe and published by Oni Press is the declared bullseye of many of them and has been used by politicians to both win local elections – and also to lose them.
Up and down America, there have been high school meetings with outraged parents on both sides of the issue, with one school banning Gender Queer, and other books, as another confirms its presence and orders more copies. This has also sent Gender Queer to the top of the sales charts, making it one of the best-selling graphic novels of the last two years, despite only selling a few hundred copies when initially released. The hyper-conservative publishers of Oni Press have been embarrassed at social gatherings as publishers of the book, but are mollified by how much money it has made them.
Illinois is going to put a stop to this though, by passing legislation that will ban book bans, whatever the subject matter, in libraries. From the Anarchist Cookbook to Gender Queer, Governor J.B. Pritzker is expected to sign the bill into law imminently.
It also stated that Illinois will "encourage and protect the freedom of libraries and library systems to acquire materials without external limitation" and to be protected against attempts to ban, remove, or otherwise restrict access to books or other materials.
Public libraries and high school libraries must sign up to the American Library Association's Library Bill of Rights to gain state funding, or develop a written statement prohibiting the practice of banning books or other materials within the library or library system. The American Library Association Bill of Rights states that libraries "should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues" and that "should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval" and should be commit to "free expression and free access to ideas."
The American Library Association states that "there were 67 attempts to ban books in Illinois in 2022, increasing from 41 the previous year" including Proud Boys targeting Illinois libraries and librarians. Now it is about to be illegal, full stop.
Maybe it's something Australia could learn from? As they are also suddenly being targeted by the same political forces.