A Missouri law has banned approximately 300 books and graphic novels -- including Batman, Watchmen, The Walking Dead and more -- in schools across the state.
Roughly 297 books have been either completely banned or banned for review in at least 11 school districts within the state of Missouri, according to PEN America. The ban comes in response to Missouri's Senate Bill 775, which went into effect in August and makes providing students with novels that contain "sexual conduct" a Class A misdemeanor. Novels and graphic novels targeted by the ban include A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel Series, The Handmaid's Tale: The Graphic Novel, The Complete Maus: A Survivor's Tale, Gender Queer: A Memoir, Watchmen, American Gods and many more. The ban also targets comics such as Batman: The Killing Joke, Batman: White Knight, Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again, X-Men: Age of X andThe Walking Dead.
Authors and Artists Respond to Missouri's Book Ban
In response, a number of authors and artists -- including Laurie Halse Anderson, M.T. Anderson, Margaret Atwood, Derf Backderf, Alison Bechdel, Khalil Bendib, Matt Bors, Ellen Crenshaw, Mike Curato, Juno Dawson, Evan Dorkin, Neil Gaiman, Roxane Gay, Deborah Hopkinson, Miles Hyman, Kelly Jensen, Lita Judge, Rupi Kaur, Maia Kobabe, Lois Lowry, Carmen Maria Machado, Dylan Meconis, Ryan North, David Small, Amir Soltani, Art Spiegelman, Colleen AF Venable -- wrote an open letter to Missouri schools and districts protesting the book bans. A portion of the letter reads, "These bans represent a grave threat to the freedom to read, much to the detriment of students across the state. These bans have been enacted largely in reaction to a provision in Senate Bill 775, which makes the distribution of material deemed 'harmful to minors' to students in Missouri by any school official (educators, librarians, student teachers, coaches) or by any visitor to a school, a misdemeanor punishable by fines or jail time.
"What is the definition of 'harmful'? Who decides? The new law focuses on 'visual depictions' and 'sexual material,' and some school boards and officials have interpreted it broadly, removing an astonishing range of material: dozens of graphic novels and comics, books with photography, memoirs, and books about art history. In the ten weeks since the provision went into effect, at least 11 school districts have banned over 300 books. Several districts banned books from their libraries permanently. In one district, over 200 books came off library shelves for an indeterminate period of 'review.'"
Source: PEN America