To the Editor:
My teenager will be going to Delaware Valley High School next year. I oppose banning books.
The target of this attempt to ban books includes Blacks, Browns, the mentally ill and LGTBQs. There are a number of books in the district that include white heterosexual subjects that have far more graphic sex scenes than the books being targeted. I would like to make it clear: I will not be submitting a Parent Request for Consideration of Library Materials because I do not believe any book should be banned, and people, including our children, should have the freedom to read what they need and want to read. Reading rids us of fear and ignorance.
Dr. Bell made it clear: “The interesting thing about this is people want unlimited free speech to talk as long as they want at a school board meeting, and want vaccines to be up to the individual, and want masks to be up to the individual, don’t want books to be up to the individual.” Dr. Bell goes on to say, “It’s all about freedom unless they don’t like something. If you’re a parent in the district, you have a say in what books your kids take out of the library. But you should not have a say in what books my kid takes out of the library. That’s an infringement on my First Amendment.”
I am concentrating here on the banning of transgender-related books. Do you know that data indicates that 82% of transgender individuals have seriously considered suicide? 40% have actually attempted suicide, with suicide highest among transgender youth according to a peer-reviewed paper written in 2020 and published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.
Transgender is a term used to refer to individuals whose gender identity is not aligned with their assigned sex at birth. Over one million people in the United States identify as transgender, with over 300,000 being aged 13-17 according to statistics gathered by The Trevor Project. It is our responsibility to provide resources of support to this vulnerable population.
This school district has students who feel they can not be open about their gender identity for fear of discrimination. It’s evident during talks about banning books that concerns are real and without judgment. I have had many conversations with parents who fear for their child’s safety within our district schools because they are not white, heterosexual and go to the right church.
Protective factors that can reduce the risk of suicidal thoughts and attempts include belonging in school. School is a place where youth spend a significant amount of time. The school setting is the primary setting for social interaction during teen years. According to recent studies and research, youth who do not feel a sense of belonging at school have a greater risk of suicide. Family and peer support are yet another protective factor. Having peer support to buffer aggression is essential to every teen’s well-being.
I oppose the banning of books that could give support to transgender youth by being able to read real-life stories and tribulations of other transgender youth, such as those in the book Beyond Magenta written by Susan Kuklin. The book is supposed to be in Delaware Valley’s high school library. But it is missing. It needs to be replaced, or taken from the drawer where someone put it. It needs to be restored to the high school library’s shelf. This book gives transgender youth a sense of belonging and understanding. It can also lend a hand in showing how important belonging during teen years is when the teen is at school.
We should provide tangible symbols of gender that include the visibility of transgender pride flags, the inclusion of books, videos, and media that center the lives of transgender youth, teens, and adults on living a full and meaning life. We need to create space and resources to host transgender-specific support and advocacy groups in schools.
Some of the proposed books looking to be banned from DV libraries include:
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin
Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez
Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
TTFN by Lauren Myracle
TTYL by Lauren Myracle
Please call me at 570-856-2858 for more information about TriVersity and any concerns you may have.
Mom serving on TriVersity’s board of directors
Editor’s note: TriVersity-The Pride Center (triversitycenter.org) is committed to serving the LGBTQ+ community and allies living in or visiting the tristate region of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.