Free societies read freely!

The ACLU of Iowa is dedicated to preserving our First Amendment right to decide for ourselves what we read, view, and hear—a fundamental element of free speech and expression.

Banned Books Week is observed annually in late September to celebrate the First Amendment and draw attention to the censorship of literature in public schools. 

The American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom tracks books that have been challenged, often by parents of students, to be removed from public and school libraries. Classic books such as Brave New World and The Catcher in the Rye, and newer titles, such as the Gossip Girl series and Twilight, have been on "challenged" lists for reasons including explicit language, sexual content, and violence.

Parents, community members, and politicians in communities across the state have been demanding that books they find objectionable be removed from school libraries and classrooms. Most of the books contain LGBTQ content. Many of the books are award winners, and all are vetted by librarians and teachers for appropriate content. Certainly, parents of schoolchildren have control over what their child reads, and they can work with their student's teacher and school to limit their access to certain books. But schools should not remove access to these books for all children in the classroom or school.

At the Vinton Public Library, two directors resigned because of efforts to purge LGBTQ books. Our statement on that situation can be found here.

Also, in Logan, Iowa, a local author's book about her family was challenged.

In 2018, Orange City was a hot spot for concerns about book banning. A petition was circulated in Orange City, demanding that the local library segregate and label books and content that have any LGBTQ content and halt the acquisition of any more. The library has since simply revised its overall classification of books by topic rather than author. Later that year, a man objecting to children's books at the library with LGBTQ content burned them and shared a video of it on social media. 

In other cases, specific books have been challenged. The following is a listing of books that have been challenged since 2005 in Iowa libraries because they contained references to sex, had LGBTQ references or characters, swear words, violence, mentions of violence, or mentions of suicide or drug use.

hey, kiddo
the hate u give
lawn boy
Hey, Kiddo
by Jarrett Krosoczka
Challenged for explicit language
The Hate U Give
by Angie Thomas
Challenged for explicit language, supposed "anti-police sentiment"
Lawn Boy
by Jonathan Evison
Challenged for descriptions of sexual experimentation
all boys aren't blue
gender queer
me and earl and the dying girl

All Boys Aren't Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto 
by George M. Johnson
Challenged for descriptions of sexual abuse

Gender Queer: A Memoir
by Maia Kobabe
Challenged for depictions of sex
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
by Jesse Andrews
Challenged for sexual themes
13 reasons why
becoming sister wives
buster's sugartime
Thirteen Reasons Why 
by Jay Asher
Challenged for themes of sex and suicide
Becoming Sister Wives 
by Kody Brown
Challenged for referencing the concept of polygamy
Buster's Sugartime 
by Marc Brown
Challenged for featuring a lesbian couple
i know why the caged bird sings
it's a book
the notebook of girls
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings 
by Maya Angelou
Challenged for references to drugs and sex
It's a Book 
by Lane Smith
Challenged for use of the word "jackass"
The Notebook Girls 
by Julia Baskin
Challenged for age-appropriateness
vampires, werewolves, and zombies
playing without the ball
Vampires, Werewolves & Zombies 
by Lisa Regan
Challenged for age-appropriateness
Playing Without the Ball 
by Rich Wallace
Challenged for containing sex
Fired: Tales of the Canned, Canceled, Downsized, and Dismissed 
by Annabelle Gurwitch
Challenged for unknown reasons
the things they carried
and tango makes three
The Things They Carried 
by Tim O'Brien
Challenged for the liberal use of the word "fuck" and drug references
And Tango Makes Three 
by John Richardson and Peter Parnell
Challenged for containing themes of homosexuality
by Robert Burleigh
Challenged for the use of the n-word
what's eating gilbert grape
sloppy firsts
second helpings
What's Eating Gilbert Grape 
by Peter Hedges
Challenged for referencing oral sex
Sloppy Firsts 
by Megan McCafferty
Challenged for referencing sex
Second Helpings 
by Megan McCafferty
Challenged for referencing sex
Part time Indian
perks wallflower
speak, book

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian 
by Sherman Alexie
Challenged for coarse language, masturbation references 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower 
by Stephen Chbosky
Challenged in 2016 for sexual references and “adult” situation
by Laurie Halse Anderson
Challenged for descriptions of sexual abuse
and that's their family
melissa, book
this book is gay
And That's Their Family!
by Kailee Coleman
Challenged for portraying homosexuality in a positive manner

by Alex Gino
Challenged for its depiction of a transgender girl and "gender ideology”

This Book is Gay
by Juno Dawson
Removed from the Sioux City Community School District for "compromising student safety" after it was featured on "Libs of TikTok," initially removed from the Iowa City Community School District after bomb threats