University hosts forum on school ‘censorship’ of LGBTQ books for children

Campus Reform has previously covered LGBT books in K-12 libraries nationwide.

A university in South Carolina recently held a forum to discuss ‘censorship’ in schools in light of a new bill that would allow for transparency in education.

On July 31, Coastal Carolina University hosted a forum to discuss censorship in schools in light of South Carolina bill H-2738—known as the Transparency and Integrity in Education Act. 

According to the bill text, all school materials must be “age appropriate, grade appropriate, or appropriate to the academic grade level of the student.” It also states that neither students nor staff shall be required to “engage in any gender or sexual diversity training or counseling” without just cause. 

Event panelists included English teacher and aspiring school librarian Jennifer Bartell Boykin, LGBTQ Advocacy Strategist at American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of South Carolina Matthew Butler, South Carolina Education Association President Sherry East, and Josh Malkin—a Senior Advocacy Strategist at ACLU South Carolina. 

Butler’s first comments connected book censorship to LGBTQ literature in schools. He reasoned that despite the year being 2023, “The closet still exists.”

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He also said that “Families are still not supportive. There are many kids that have to go in the quiet to find these books and have access to information to see themselves reflected... It’s an escape.” 

Jennifer Bartell claimed that legislation surrounding oversight of books in schools causes teachers and librarians to engage in “self-censorship.” 

The Senate passed H-2738 in May, and it is making its way through the South Carolina legislature. 

Some educators were opposed to the bill. Sherry East, president of the South Carolina Education Associationstated that “I certainly think that this [the bill] will push teachers out of the classroom.” She also said that “It will make young people reconsider going into the profession.”

This comes shortly after Biden Administration announced on June 8 that the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights would “appoint a new coordinator to address the growing threat that book bans pose for the civil rights of students.”

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The White House press release announcing the new coordinator’s position claims that “Over a dozen states have enacted anti-LGBTQI+ laws that violate our most basic values and freedoms as Americans, and are cruel and callous to our kids, our neighbors, and those in our community.” 

As Campus Reform has previously reported, much of the LGBTQ content under scrutiny in public K-12 schools pushes transgender ideology, gender identity, and sexually explicit content. For example, “queer theory” and transgenderism were found to be present in all Continental United States. 

One example is This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson. A portion of the book reads “Up your bum you have a prostate gland which feels nice to be massaged. The anus is also sensitive and responds to being played with.”   

Campus Reform also covered a summer 2023 recommended reading guide published by the New York City Public Schools Literacy Collaborative earlier this year. The guide includes multiple books that push gender identity such as George by “genderqueer” author Alex Gino and Being Jazz: My Life as a Transgender Teen by transgender activist and YouTuber Jazz Jennings. 

Campus Reform reached out to all relevant parties for comment. This article will be updated accordingly. 

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