Only a handful of people are responsible for a majority of the challenges attempting to have books banned in school districts across the United States, according to a new report.
An analysis by the Washington Post of challenge against books nationwide discovered that 11 adults were responsible for 60 percent of all challenges during the 2021-2022 school year. Some of them contested close to 100 books in their school districts alone.
This finding comes after the American Library Association noted that it had documented 1,269 demands to ban library books and resources in 2022, nearly double the 729 documented in 2021. That is the highest number of attempted book bans since the organization began collecting data about censorship more than two decades ago.
Book ban requests surpass 1,000
The ALA said 2,571 unique books were targeted for censorship in 2022, a 38 percent increase from 2021’s numbers and of those a majority were either written or about members of the LGBTQ+ community and people of color.
According to the Post, Virginia woman Jennifer Petersen challenged 71 out of the 73 books that she read (the remaining two were removed before she could challenge them), and has made it her goal to challenge one book a week. The report described the 48-year-old as being “part of a small army of book objectors nationwide.”
Petersen, a mother of two, targets sexual content within books and looks for material that under Virginia law qualifies as sexually explicit, pornographic, or obscene. Petersen began appearing at school board meetings and reading aloud passages from books she was contesting. Before then the school district estimated that it hardly had to deal with objections once every five or 10 years.
She emphasized that she has no intention of backing off her challenges. Petersen told the outlet she will keep filing “as long as it takes ... to get the sexually explicit books out,” she said. “To make it so that they cannot come back.”
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