Engie Talks About Banned Books (Again): The LGBTQ+ Edition

IT’S BANNED BOOKS WEEK 2014!

I mean, it’s Banned Books Week 2014. I got a little overexcited there. Sorry about that. I just really love talking about banned books, about how silly the practice is and about how it often backfires completely.

So, with that in mind, I thought I’d write a post for this year’s BBW. In past years I have written the following posts about banned books:

So this year, I thought I’d write about something new. I really enjoyed writing the post about YA book banning because it was about a specific aspect of book banning, so I’m going to do the same thing here and narrow down my topic: Banned LGBTQ+ books.

Or, even more specifically, banned LGBTQ+ books that were written for children’s or YA audiences. Books can’t

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annie on my mindNancy Garden’s book Annie On My Mind is one of the most-challenged LGBTQ+ YA books – and if I were only a wee bit more organized, I’d be sharing my thoughts on it with you now! Alas, alas, I forgot that my library system’s only copy of the book is located at another branch, so I had to request it. But it still hasn’t been delivered yet, so… to make a long story short, I haven’t read it yet and cannot amuse you with various witty remarks. Sorry about that.

What I can do is provide you with various facts gleaned from Googling:

  • It was published in 1982, making it one of the earliest LGBTQ+ YA books
  • It’s about two girls who fall in love
  • It has an adorable cover (and the reissued version is even cuter)
  • It’s been banned a bunch of times (duh) and even burned (I didn’t think that happened anymore, except perhaps with Harry Potter books)
  • I swear I’ll read this book soon and then review it
  • I promise
  • Why don’t we move on to the next thing?

-~-

OK, this next thing is just a piece of someone else’s writing, but I thought you might like it, so I’ll link to it. One of my favorite LGBTQ+ authors, Malinda Lo, answered the question, “Have your books ever been banned?” on her blog. It’s a fascinating post.

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Now it’s time for the third and final thingy! (I like to split up my posts into sections so I

can talk about a bunch of little things. In case you haven’t already noticed.) So. This summer, one of my favoritest books EVER was banned.

The book in question is The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth. Here’s some context: I hardly EVER give any book a five-star rating. (I’ve rated only two books that high thus far this year. Coincidentally, they were both written by Malinda Lo… but I digress.) But with this book, there was absolutely no question that it deserved five stars.

And in my mind, there was absolutely no way it wouldn’t be banned. It’s a novel about a lesbian who grows up in small-town America (circa 1980s/90s) and who is eventually sent to a “de-gaying” camp to make her straight.

And that sort of thing makes some people uncomfortable.

I follow a blog called Diversity in YA (which is run by Malinda Lo – no surprise there, ha ha) and this summer, one of its best posts discussed the banning of this book. It really made me think.

A school library board in Delaware removed The Miseducation of Cameron Post from its
list of ten books for high school students to read over the summer. The other nine books were as follows:

  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  • Butter by Erin Jade Lange
  • Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
  • March by John Lewis
  • If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch
  • More Than This by Patrick Ness
  • Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
  • Boxers by Gene Luen Yang and Lark Pien

What was the reasoning for removing Miseducation? “It contains swearing!”the miseducation of cameron post

And it does. Quite a bit of it, actually. But why don’t we see how many of the other books from the reading list contain swearing? A quick Google search show that the following books feature curse words:

  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  • Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
  • More Than This by Patrick Ness
  • Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Oh my goodness! Some of the other books feature swearing. Hmmm.

Now, let’s narrow down the list one final time. This time, I’m picking out the books that are most similar to Miseducation. These books feature swearing AND a bit of sexual content. (They’re all what I’d call “upper YA,” after all. They’re meant for slightly older readers.) Only two books fit those specifications:

  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  • Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Why weren’t these books also removed from the list? I have a pretty good idea, and it has nothing to do with swearing. It has everything to do with The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor & Park having entire straight casts of characters.

…there is an upside to all of this. And it makes me giggle. You see, book banning doesn’t usually work. It usually backfires. Spectacularly. People naturally protest such restrictions, and the book ends up getting more publicity than it had before.

In the case of The Miseducation of Cameron Post, sales of the book on Amazon increased by a looooot. (That’s a highly scientific measurement, by the way. A “looooot.”) Copies were donated to the kids in the town where it was banned. So, yeah. It was banned. But in the end, everything ended well. Book banning doesn’t work, and it never really will work. In the end, all it does is bring the story to the attention of more and more people.

Thank you, book banners. You just made one of my favorite novels better known. For that, you must be commended.

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Have any of your favorite LGBTQ+ books (YA or otherwise) been banned? Tell me about them!

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About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
This entry was posted in Books and Reading!, LGBTQ+, Nevillegirl's Adventures!, Non-Neville Posts, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Engie Talks About Banned Books (Again): The LGBTQ+ Edition

  1. I’ve heard of Annie on my Mind before! I’ve never read it, unfortunately, but I’ve been hoping to expand the LGBTQ+ that I read, so it would probably be a good one to start off with. The Miseducation of Cameron Post also sounds pretty good, because…well, because it was banned, and that really makes you want to read a book!

    I’m also a fan of Malinda Lo’s books, and I think I may have to invest in them for myself, rather than relying on the library!

    • nevillegirl says:

      The Miseducation of Cameron Post is probably one of my… three? top favorite books. (Along with The Return of the King and A Game of Thrones. ) So, yeah… I highly recommend it. 😀

      Malinda Lo is THE BESTEST. She’s a very talented writer and I should probably buy her books at some point, too…

      • I ordered “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” and “Annie on My Mind” yesterday, and I can’t wait for them to arrive!

        I’ve not actually got her books either, a friend lent them to me, but now that I’m looking to buy them…they’ve just disappeared from the shops! I have a big list of books I want to read, so I would spent ages in Waterstone’s looking in just about every section for them all, but it’s like they don’t exist! I’ve only managed to cross 3 off it now; the aforementioned two, and “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe”, but I suppose Amazon is around for a reason!

    • nevillegirl says:

      Yay! I still have yet to read Annie on my Mind, but Cam Post is LEKDGHDSLGKHDLSGAHLGHDSLGHSDHG awesome.

      Yeah, I haven’t been able to find any of Malinda Lo’s books in my local bookstore… *cries*

  2. I have to read these banned books now! I mean, seriously, you’re right about book banning: it majorly backfires.
    Great post!

  3. Looks like I MUST read The Miseducation of Cameron Post! Lol, I love book banning too. It’s so useless. It’s like in Harry Potter – when Umbridge bans the Quibbler it just makes it even more certain that everyone is going to read it. Awesome post 😀

  4. matttblack42 says:

    Man, I really need to read The Miseducation of Cameron Post. I’ve had it on my Kindle for a while now. I’ll read it right after I finish The Name of the Wind… and The Dream Thieves, I promise.

    And yeah, book banning is stupid, and counter-productive for the banner. Honestly, if I ever get a book published, I hope someone bans. It’ll be great for publicity.

  5. Cait says:

    I completely agree: banning books just absolutely backfires. I don’t know why they still do it?! And hellooooo, do they really think that if YA books were devoid of swear words there would be no swearing? *coughs and splutters* It absolutely astounds me how the People Who Do the Banning exist and what century they’re in. -_- I’ve read a lot of banned books, but I reeeally want to read Malinda Lo’s books. This year? Hopefully? Eeeeh. My TBR is out of control and I’m dealing with it by ignoring it. >.>

  6. Nirvana says:

    Ha! 😀 You couldn’t be more right when you said a book gets more publicity when it’s banned, because I’ve just added Malinda Lo’s books to my TBR xD

    WHAT? I had no idea Eleanor and Park was a ‘banned’ book! I knew somewhat about tFioS but…
    *shakes head*

    • nevillegirl says:

      Awesome, yay! You should try Miseducation, too. 🙂

      No, no, no. So. Miseducation was on that list of ten, right? Well, so were Eleanor & Park and TFioS. Miseducation was banned but the other two WEREN’T. They /have/ been banned in other schools, but not in the case I discussed above. 🙂

  7. F says:

    I didn’t know they could ban books for swearing, but then again I live in Ireland where a person is seen to be suspicious if they aren’t swearing.. I’m aiming to read more banned books in future, because it seems all the best books were banned at some point!

    Really interesting post! 🙂

    • nevillegirl says:

      Pffft, that comment made me laugh!
      *nodnod* I need to read more classic banned books. I’ve read a lot of more modern banned books, but not many that are older.

      Thank you! 🙂

  8. Mo says:

    I’ve read both Annie on My Mind and Cam Post! I personally like the anniversary cover edition better, but the copy I own has the earlier one. Though I can’t complain, I got it for a dollar. (Apparently the very first cover looked like this and I’m really glad I don’t have that one.)

    As for other banned books (I mean, I’ve read some, but none that are super famous for being banned) you should read the Oz books! They were banned for having strong female characters and women in leadership roles. And you and Fanta and I can squee together over the somewhat ridiculous plots and lesbian cuteness

    • nevillegirl says:

      Pffft, I’ve seen that cover before, and it is TERRIBLE. 😛

      I should read them! *adds to TBR list*

      • Mo says:

        There’s also this one, which looks like a fairly non-gay middle grade book, IMO.

        Yay!
        …and how would I know you gave Cam Post five stars if you haven’t actually reviewed it? although tbh I don’t know why I want you do one so much it’s not like I don’t know what you think

    • nevillegirl says:

      Pffft. If it were a guy/girl romance all the covers would show the two of them, like, making out and the guy would be shirtless. But if it’s two girls… let’s have the cover pretend they’re just ~friends~, right? *le sigh*

      Well, I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads! xD And yes, yes, I will review it… eventually…) I need to work more on my Reading The Rainbow series, but I’ve had a lot of LGBTQ+ posts lately and I like to keep my post topics balanced out, so… soon. Ish. 😀

  9. Pingback: Banned Books I’ve Read Within The Past Year | Musings From Neville's Navel

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