It has recently come to light that just eleven individuals were reportedly responsible for a staggering 60% of all book challenges during the 2021-2022 school year. These challenges have left many wondering about the extent to which these actions genuinely represent the broader sentiments of parents across the nation.
11 Individuals Behind 60% Of Book Bans
The Washington Post recently conducted an analysis of book banning, revealing that 11 people were responsible for 60% of book bans nationwide. Astonishingly, these individuals filed as many as 100 challenges each, illustrating the extent of their commitment to this cause.
Jennifer Petersen’s Book-Banning Journey
Jennifer Petersen has become the latest name in a growing list of individuals embarking on book-banning sprees within their communities. Her efforts, in particular, raise a series of questions about the nature and scale of book challenges in the United States.
Petersen’s case is not isolated, as evidenced by Connie Phillips, who recently made headlines for filing over 100 complaints and challenges to the St. Tammany Parish Library.
The Impact on Her Community
Alongside 14 others, Phillips succeeded in getting 172 books pulled from the library’s shelves, leaving a community of a quarter million residents grappling with the fallout.
The estimated cost of library resources to address these serial complaints? A staggering $72,000.
A Growing Trend
This is not an isolated incident but rather a part of a broader trend of book challenges sweeping across the country. It appears to be a small minority spearheading these efforts, as they account for a disproportionate number of the recorded book challenges in 2022 and 2021.
More Than a Hobby
Jennifer Petersen’s journey into serial book banning is an example of how this issue manifests in reality. Petersen, a stay-at-home mother, has made book banning her hobby, even going so far as to display her conquests – all 73 challenged books – on a shelf in her basement like trophies.
Petersen’s Approach to Challenged Material
What sets Petersen apart from the usual book banners is her active engagement with the material. Unlike most, she reads the books in question and exclusively searches for any content related to sexuality, no matter how small.
Book Banning’s Classroom Disruption
Upon finding such content, even if it’s just a sentence, she flags it with a post-it note. She will then read these passages aloud in school board meetings, often omitting context, without considering the impact on the students and staff.
Overworked Librarian Team Speaks Out
The repercussions of Petersen’s actions are not limited to mere inconvenience. One librarian estimated that a team of eleven staff members spends 40 hours a week dealing with Petersen’s complaints, often on overtime, diverting their attention from the primary goal of serving students.
Resignations Are Common
Some staff members have reportedly resigned due to Petersen’s relentless challenges and disruptive behavior.
Motive Behind the Madness
Petersen’s stated motive for these actions is her belief that books with sexual content might incite teenagers to engage in sexual activity. Her mission is not confined to her own children but extends to a broader objective of making it easier for all parents to “preserve their kids’ innocence.”
Targeted Themes – LGBTQ+ and Race Topics in Banned Books
The American Library Association and other associations have compiled lists of the most banned books, primarily focusing on works that deal with LGBTQ+ or race topics. These lists aim to draw attention to the severity of book banning and identify common trends in targeted books.
A Systematic Approach
Petersen admitted to using these lists as a guide to determine which books to challenge in her school district.
Balancing Parental Concerns and Educational Discourse
As discussions on this issue continue, it is essential to strike a balance between preserving a parent’s right to voice concerns and informed and measured discourse surrounding literature and education.
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