Pen America discusses banned books in Virginia schools

An update after two sexually explicit books were removed from a Lexington school library.

The books in question are “It’s Perfectly Normal” by Robie Harris and “Kiss Number 8″ by Colleen Venable.

This joins a long list of local school districts as well as those across the country that have removed similar books this year.

10 News spoke to Pen America, a group that advocates for the freedom to read and create literature of all types. Read more about book bans and Pen America’s Freedom to read project here.

They told us they are seeing the same list of books get banned in school districts across the country, and that book bans are part of a larger, nationally coordinated effort. Pen America states “books are under profound attack in the United States. They are disappearing from library shelves, being challenged in droves, being decreed off limits by school boards, legislators, and prison authorities.”

”This campaign to remove books is quite well coordinated. It’s not happened stance that a list of books that were challenged and banned in Florida are also showing up in Utah and Missouri and Virginia. The campaign to remove certain types of books as I said is well coordinated. There are ways in which information is being shared across online platforms,” Kasey Meehan with Pen of America said.

Meehan said the books they see targeted for removal are overwhelmingly books with LGBTQ+ characters or characters of color that include themes about sexual health, sexuality, gender and racism. They say it is the books that have long fought for a place on the shelf that are being targeted.

PEN America pushes back against the banning of books and the intolerance, exclusion, and censorship that undergird it. Meehan says they encourage the public to read all books that are being banned so readers can decide for themselves.

PEN America tracks all book bans in libraries and classrooms across the U.S. in its Index of School Book Bans, updated for the 2022-2023 school year.

Additionally, book bans in local libraries can be reported here.

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