by Cynthia Andrews, Beavercreek United Church of Christ, Beavercreek, OR
In September, many libraries across the nation and our state organize and promote Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read. These celebrations promote the freedom to choose to read whatever the reader might want and the freedom of a writer to express personal opinion, even if that opinion might be unorthodox or unpopular. The events also stress the importance of ensuring the availability of those topics and viewpoints to all who wish to read them. An additional aspect of the week highlights books that have been challenged or banned in a variety of library settings, especially public and academic (school) libraries at all levels.
In general, our First Amendment Rights (free speech and free press) are well served by our libraries that are dedicated to those rights and provide information across a broad spectrum of human interests. However, the right to read about LGBT topics is persistently under threat by individuals and groups who would limit what all of us can read about these subjects. Books with LGBT themes are banned or challenged each year in libraries across the country.