News - Advocacy
Friday, June 23, 2023 12:00 AM

Intellectual Freedom Resources

Recently, we have seen escalations in the tactics of book ban proponents in Michigan. Keep an eye out for the following in your community:

In Lapeer County, a prosecutor was reported to be considering bringing charges against the director of the public library for keeping the frequently-targeted book Gender Queer available to the public. U.S. publishers are not producing obscene books, and providing access to a book in the library is not a crime. As discussed in the linked news article, attempting to force a library to censor books with legal threats may even backfire as removing books from a public library based on viewpoint may leave the library open to a First Amendment violation lawsuit.

Some have tried to create new laws at the local level to restrict library collections. An ordinance was under consideration by the Cass County Council requiring libraries to certify that their collection contained no “sexually explicit” content accessible to minors. However, as we’ve seen throughout the book ban discourse, the vagueness of terms like “sexually explicit” leaves the door open to banning everything from romance novels to books about health to picture books containing LGBTQ+ characters. Fortunately, this particular ordinance has been dropped, but similar laws could be proposed in the future anywhere around the state.

Now that June is here, some libraries have been targeted by “Hide the Pride” initiatives, in which individuals target Pride-themed book displays, removing books featuring LGBTQ+ people. The books may be hidden in another area of the library, checked out and not returned, or simply stolen. For library staff, Book Riot offers ideas for planning Pride Month displays in the face of recent pushback to inclusion in libraries. Keep in mind that these techniques may not be limited to Pride displays; books about race and history are also frequent targets of book ban efforts.

Intellectual Freedom Toolkit
Resources for library staff, educators, and board members.
Intellectual Freedom Message Center
Tips and templates for promoting intellectual freedom in your community.
Advocacy Resource Funds
Request support as you take action to protect First Amendment rights.

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