Historically, books have been people’s go-to way of enjoying stories and receiving information. People read books to escape current events, but it’s always been welcome to see yourself reflected in the story.

Imagine, for a moment, never having a character like you. Never seeing a story like yours be told. Representation holds an incredible amount of power. It can show that it’s okay to be yourself, as cheesy as that sounds.

I don’t know about you, but I find looking at the banned books list to be a little entertaining. It can be funny to see what’s been banned and why. For me, it’s also a list of books to read. 

Recently, that list has gotten significantly less entertaining. According to the American Library Association, out of the thirteen most challenged books last year, seven were challenged partially because of LGBTQI+ content. That means that the majority of books challenged last year were challenged, in part, because they were representing the LGBTQIA+ community.

This recent rash of challenges highlights the ongoing fight for equality in the United States. In 2023 alone, 568 bills targeting transgender individuals have been proposed. Thirty-two of those bills have been national. Because for some godforsaken reason, people can’t be allowed to live their own lives.

These challenges matter. People’s rights being attacked matter. People having representation taken away matters. These books can be life-changing for people questioning their identity. Taking them away because you don’t like it, or don’t relate to it, and depriving people of much-needed representation is ridiculous.

Books that openly discuss race, gender, sexuality, and all the lived experiences that come with should be available to all. One of the wonderful things about reading is being exposed to new ideas and perspectives. Censoring books that offer a different perspective of the world will only serve to aid the oppression that members of minority groups experience.

Books are so important. They spread beliefs, facts, and stories. Censoring books has never been okay. The only way to combat censorship is to speak out. Go to your local library, read banned and challenged books. Request what they don’t have. Make it painfully clear that censorship is never okay, that people’s lived experiences shouldn’t be censored.

Lynn Spahr is a Hutchinson sophomore studying Journalism and the Opinion Page Editor.

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