Take PRIDE in Challenged and Banned LGBTQ Comics

June 17, 2016
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June is Pride month, so celebrate with challenged and banned LGBTQ comics! As the recent murders in Orlando demonstrate, the LGBTQ community is still facing profound adversity. That adversity extends to censorship and challenges to books featuring LGBTQ characters and/or books by members of the LGBTQ community. Here are some of the most frequently challenged books in libraries and schools…

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel 

funhome

• Location of key challenge: Various

• Reason challenged: Obscene images

In Fun Home, Alison Bechdel explores her relationship with her father after learning he was gay and her own sexuality. As a result, her poignant memoir has been frequently targeted by censors. In 2014, the book faced its greatest challenge in South Carolina, where the state legislature debated punitive budget cuts against the College of Charleston because it incorporated Fun Home into a voluntary summer reading program for incoming freshman. More…

Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruse

stuck rubber baby

• Location of key challenge: Montgomery County Memorial Library System, Texas

• Reason challenged: Depiction of homosexuality

The book was challenged alongside 15 other young adult books with gay positive themes. The book was ultimately retained in the Montgomery County system, but was reclassified from Young Adult to Adult. More…

Sandman by Neil Gaiman and various artists

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• Location of key challenge: Various

• Reason challenged: Anti-family themes, offensive language, and unsuited for age group

When asked about how he felt when Sandman was labelled unsuitable for teens, Gaiman responded, “I suspect that having a reputation as adult material that’s unsuitable for teens will probably do more to get teens to read Sandmanthan having the books ready and waiting on the YA shelves would ever do.” In a rare higher education challenge, The Sandman: The Doll’s House, which features a prominent transgender character, was among the graphic novels a 20-year-old student and her parents wanted “eradicated” from the Crafton Hills College curricula. More…

The Diary of a Teenage Girl by Phoebe Gloeckner

diary

• Location of key challenge: Undisclosed

• Reason challenged: Sexual content

Artist and comics creator Phoebe Gloeckner has never been afraid to show the raw and gritty bits of reality in her work, including exploration of her sexual relationships as a teenager. For that reason, Gloekner’s work is a frequent target of censors. In 2015, CBLDF was involved in a confidential challenge against the graphic novel over its sexual content, and our efforts kept the book on shelves. More…

Stuck in the Middle, edited by Ariel Schrag

stuckinthemiddle

• Location of key challenge: Dixfield, Maine, public school system

• Reason challenged: Language, sexual content, and drug references

CBLDF wrote a letter in support of the book, and the school board voted to leave the book on library shelves with the caveat the students must have parental permission to check out the book. “While we’re pleased to see the book retained in the library’s collection, we’re very disappointed that it is retained with restrictions,” said Executive Director Charles Brownstein. More…

This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki

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• Location of key challenge: Various

• Reason challenged: Sexual content, unsuited to age group

Graphic novel This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki broke boundaries by becoming the first graphic novel to make the short list for the Caldecott Medal. Unfortunately, the Caldecott honor yielded an unforeseen negative outcome: Since the announcement of the Caldecott honor, CBLDF has been confidentially involved in monitoring challenges to This One Summer in various communities. More…

Drama by Raina Telgemeier

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• Location of key challenge: Chapel Hill Elementary School in Mount Pleasant, Texas

• Reason challenged: Sexual content

Although most readers of all ages found Drama to be just as endearing and authentic as Telgemeier’s other booksSmile and Sisters, a small but vocal minority have objected to the inclusion of two gay characters. More…

Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra

Y The Last Man

• Location of key challenge: Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa, California

• Reason challenged: Sexual content

In June 2015, Y: The Last Man was one of four graphic novels that a 20-year-old college student and her parents said should be “eradicated from the system” at Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa, California. After completing an English course on graphic novels, Tara Shultz publicly raised objections to PersepolisFun HomeY: The Last Man Vol. 1, and The Sandman Vol. 2: The Doll’s House as “pornography” and “garbage.” More…

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

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• Location of Challenge: Apple iOS (2013), Oregon (2014)

• Reason challenged: Sexual content, anti-family, nudity, offensive language, and unsuited for age group.

Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples sci-fi epic adventure, Saga, has not only become a bestselling and critically acclaimed comic series since its March 2012 debut — it has also become one of the most controversial comics. The book was temporarily pulled from Apple iOS, seemingly due to the depiction of gay sex, but in reality due to Apple’s vague content policies and the digital publisher’s desire to conform (it doesn’t help that Apple seems to be inclined to ban LGBTQ content). It was also challenged in an Oregon library for being “anti-family,” which is a vague reason that is often used in regard to books featuring LGBTQ characters.  More…

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