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We Are Better Than That



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The following letter has been received for publication in The Newtown Bee:

Dear Newtown Board of Education,

It has come to my attention that books have been challenged in the Newtown school libraries for “objectionable” content. I strongly urge you to keep all books in circulation to uphold the right of all young people in our community to read. Removing these books from your shelf that are so often the stories of LGBTQ authors infers to young people that they cannot be exposed to these communities. It criminalizes the identities of the people writing these books as well as the young people who share these identities.

Books that contain topics that are often uncomfortable to read and difficult to imagine are at the root of these challenges. In censoring these stories, you are suppressing young people’s chances to be affirmed in their own uncomfortable and difficult life experiences. You are disregarding young people’s ability to see themselves reflected in the stories they read. You are denying the chance for young people to build empathy for experiences outside of their own. When 86 percent of LGBTQ+ students report being harassed, bullied or assaulted based on their gender identification/preferences, this is your call to action to keep these stories accessible for all.

Furthermore, in banning these books, you are suppressing young people’s ability to engage in difficult discourse, for fear of “inappropriateness” or “offensiveness.” This teaches young people that the way to handle these topics is to avoid them. Oftentimes, young people cannot avoid these topics because they are the ones living these topics. And for those who do not share the experiences of these stories, the safest way for them to engage with these topics is through literature.

I am writing to urge your support as we strive to protect all children’s and teens’ rights to read as well as the rights and livelihood of the authors who are affected by this challenge. The protection of free expression and the right for LGBTQ+ young people to see themselves represented in their libraries is of the utmost importance. I ask that you consider this when these challenges arise.

I therefore urge you to ensure that the first amendment rights of our students are protected. I was dismayed at the phobias expressed by others, including some of our elected officials. If you don’t want to read a book, then don’t read it. If you want control over what your children read, then be a parent. Uncensored content is available on the internet on any subject imaginable. What’s next? Should we censor all internet content? Should we allow ourselves to be bullied by narrow-minded individuals who want any thinking that does not align with their tastes to be banned?

We are better than that.


Gregory L. Rich


Comments are open. Be civil.
  1. tscinto says:

    I didn’t hear anyone express any phobias and I had a front row seat.

  2. qstorm says:

    Be a parent. Take your kids to Booth library or purchase this material on Amazon.

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