North Dakota’s lovely weather is, of course, a powerful magnet. Not to mention the affordable real estate. But Taylor Brorby paints a depressing picture. “The Real Reason North Dakota Is Going After Books and Librarians”.
“The summer after graduating from college, when I was outed by my aunt, and my home was no longer a safe space, I searched the stacks of the Bismarck Veterans Memorial Public Library for stories of gay people disowned by family members to help me find my own way to stable ground. During those evenings, I would settle into a plush armchair with a pile of books and magazines and read. I read authors like Kent Haruf and Amy Tan and Mary Karr. I would listen to classical music CDs to try and calm myself. I was free to roam, peruse, and free to be myself, at least privately.
North Dakota is a part of a growing national trend. Between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31 of last year, the American Library Association recorded 681 attempts to ban or restrict library resources. . . . According to PEN America, 41 percent of books banned throughout the 2021-22 school year contained L.G.B.T.Q. themes, protagonists or prominent secondary characters. Bills similar to North Dakota’s have also been introduced or passed into law in states like West Virginia, Texas, Mississippi, Montana, Iowa, Wyoming, Missouri and Indiana.
Under Missouri’s new law banning the provision of “explicit sexual material” to students, school districts removed works about Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo; comics, such as “Batman” and “X-Men”; visual depictions of Shakespeare’s works; and “Maus,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel about the Holocaust.
But let’s be honest: It’s not the Venus de Milo these laws are going to come for first. It’s books with L.G.B.T.Q. stories, or books by L.G.B.T.Q. authors — the kind of books that have provided so many queer young people with a lifeline when they needed it most. I don’t know where I would have ended up if I couldn’t read my way out of despair. My heart breaks to think of all the kids now who won’t have that option.”
One large step backwards.