Triangle educators, book sellers fight back as attempts to ban books persist

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Wednesday, September 21, 2022
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New numbers show the effort to ban books across the country continues to grow.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- New numbers show the effort to ban books across the country continues to grow.

The American Library Association said there have been nearly 700 attempts to ban or restrict access to more than 1,600 different books in the first nine months of this year.

It's the highest number since it started tracking things 20 years ago.

This week is also Banned Books Week, which draws attention to the harms of book censorship.

"By keeping people from knowledge and information, that is a very slippery slope," said Michelle Burton, a school librarian in Durham for nearly 30 years and also the president of the Durham Association of Educators. "You're not going to stop people from finding out what they need to find out."

She said she vets everything that comes into the media center but emphasizes how much parents need to be involved, too.

"I really believe in giving my students the knowledge and empowering them to make choices that are right for them," she said.

Last year, nine parents filed criminal complaints against the Wake County School System to try to get LGBTQ+ themed books banned because they said they were inappropriate for children of a certain age.

"There have been banning of books for racial issues, for political issues, Communism, things like that," said Diane Parfitt, who owns a used-book store--City Center Gallery and Books in downtown Fayetteville.

Just this week, she ordered a shirt that says "I sell banned books."

"If you have a concern about a book, you should read the book," said Parfitt, who has owned the store since 2003. "Don't just take one comment off the Internet about a word that's in a book and decide it should be banned. If a book is banned from a library or from a school, that's the first thing kids are going to look for."

Both reports from the American Library Association and PEN America found the books being challenged are overwhelmingly written by or about ethnic minorities or LGBTQ+ individuals.