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Please Don’t Ban LGBTQ Books



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To the Editor:

I am deeply disturbed by the current campaign to remove LGBTQ books like Flamer (by Mike Curato), This Book Is Gay (by Juno Dawson) and All Boys Aren’t Blue by (by George M. Johnson) from the Newtown High School library.

Despite the way the complainants have presented Flamer, there is nothing in the book that can honestly be construed as explicit or salacious. It certainly does not come close to meeting the definition of pornography.

What Flamer does do is depict the experiences of a queer kid named Aiden. The story shows and describes the bullying and abuse suffered by Aiden at the hands of other kids, and also Aiden’s journey of self discovery.

In fact, Flamer is just the kind of book that should be available to our kids as they mature and come into their own identities. I know this because Flamer is a book that I wish I’d had while growing up as a bisexual kid in the 1980’s. The culture of that time held that queer people were shameful or sick and we were easy prey for abuse or violence.

The threat of exposure was real and constant. There were no positive stories in books about the experience of queer kids. There were no characters on TV or in movies that affirmed my experience. I do not want any young person to have to grow up in such an environment.

What young LGBTQ people need is acceptance and affirmation. These attacks on the validity of the experiences of LGBTQ kids are shameful and are dangerous. Research shows that having just one affirming adult in their life reduces a gay teen’s risk of suicide by more than 40%. This increases dramatically in the case of trans kids.

I firmly believe that any young person who feels motivated to seek out Flamer and other LGBTQ literature in the NHS library would benefit from it. This goes not only for young queer people but also to straight cisgender people who want to learn about the queer experience.

The special committee formed to consider the challenges to Flamer (and another book titled Blankets) considered the issues and unanimously decided to recommend keeping both books in the NHS library. Our superintendent Mr. Melillo came to the same conclusion as he reported in the May 2 Board of Education meeting.

Unfortunately, the four Republican members of the Board of Education have decided to delay a vote on the fate of these books. The rationale for this decision is unclear, as the board received the committee’s decision on April 21.

I sincerely hope the BOE will decide to follow the recommendations of the committee and of Superintendent Melillo and keep these books in the Newtown High School library.

Timothy Stan


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1 comment
  1. tscinto says:

    I found it interesting that 3 of the board members wanted to vote that night, but when they got to the discussion part, they wouldn’t share their thoughts. If they have already made up their mind, they should want to join into the discussion. The other 4 members clearly have, and are, putting a lot of thought and research before they come to their final decision. Kudos to them.

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