Welcome to our fourth post from the Museum Studies class as they explore Banned Books Week and censorship. If you want to review their assignment or learn more about Banned Books week, please see Prof. Julie Holcomb’s recent post: Banned Books Week Introduction
by Quinn Puckett
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
The book Two Boys Kissing was added to the list of banned books for reasons that were more than obvious. The Washington Post summed it up very well by saying the book was challenged “because its cover has an image of two boys kissing, and it was considered to include sexually explicit LGBT content” (The Washington Post, C3).
One of these cases that was attempted was in Virginia’s Fauquier School District. The complaints levelled in the school board meeting by parents were much the same as the reasons listed by The Washington Post. One of these parents tried to sidestep that reasoning but the reasons she gives aren’t any better as they’re all founded on a sort of “open the page online and use control + f to find keywords with no context” method. She claims in her complaint to have read “a majority of the book at Amazon.com” (Chung). The problem lies in that she can’t read a majority of the book like that with the preview feature and because she then goes on to add that she searched for references in the book to words like “kiss” and “sex,” following that up by saying that “60 percent of the book’s contents being related to kissing or sexual content” (Chung). The book was chosen to remain on the shelves by the board, but the same parent filed an appeal to have it banned almost immediately after the decision. In her following appeal she even forgoes her original reasons stating, “my issue is with the teenage celebration of sexuality throughout the book” (Gomez). The book was chosen to remain on the shelves after the second try as well.
The problems with the reasons that she gives are problems that a lot of these sorts of appeals face, the people filing the complaints haven’t read the book in question at all. Two Boys Kissing is a young adult fiction book. The book is narrated by a chorus of the generation of LGBT people who died during the AIDS crisis as they observe the changes that have happened since they lived by following the story of several teens. The references to kissing that the parent mentioned are overtly stated if you read the book as two of the teens, Harry and Craig, who are attempting to show support for one of their gay friends who was beaten by trying to get the Guinness World Record for the longest kiss. There is no overtly sexual content in the book either, it’s a young adult book. Two Boys Kissing is a touching story that shows struggles in the lives of young LGBT people and it’s a shame that people would wish to get rid of it. The book is a wonderful read that really shows the community in a realistic way by basing events on real life and is a lovely look into LGBT life.
Chung, Sandy. “Request to BAN ‘Two Boys KISSING’ from Virginia High School Library Denied.” School Library Journal, 30 Apr. 2014, www.slj.com/?detailStory=request-to-ban-two-boys-kissing-from-virginia-high-school-library-denied.
Gomez, Betsy. “Two Boys KISSING Stays on Shelves in Virginia School System (for Now).” Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, 25 Apr. 2014, cbldf.org/2014/04/two-boys-kissing-stays-on-shelves-in-virginia-school-system-for-now/.
“September 26, 2017 (Page C3 EZ RE).” The Washington Post (2008-), Sep 26, 2017, pp. 1. ProQuest, http://ezproxy.baylor.edu/login?url=https://www.proquest.com/newspapers/september-26-2017-page-c3-ez-re/docview/1985958858/se-2?accountid=7014.