News /

Obama Writes Letter Praising Librarians, Condemns Critics of Children's Books With Themes Like Gender, Sexuality and Race

Former President Barack Obama has written an open letter to librarians, praising them for providing children with often explicit and controversial books about race, gender, and sexuality.

In the letter, which was published on Twitter, the former president condemned “book bans” as conservatives attempt to keep explicit literature out of children’s hands.

Obama wrote that “librarians are on the front lines, fighting every day to make the widest possible range of viewpoints, opinions, and ideas available to everyone.”

“Today, some of the books that shaped my life—and the lives of so many others—are being challenged by people who disagree with certain ideas or perspectives,” Obama wrote. “It’s no coincident that these ‘banned books’ are often written by or feature people of color, indigenous people, and members of the LGBTQ+ community—though there have been unfortunate instances in which books by conservative authors or book containing ‘triggering’ words or scenes have been targets of removal. Either way, the impulse seems to be to silence, rather than engage, rebut, learn from or seek to understand views that don’t fit our own.

Obama claimed that these books, none of which he named, being kept away from children is “misguided, and contrary to what has made this country great.”

The former president compared Christian religious texts being banned in authoritarian nations to the age restrictions on sexually explicit materials proposed by conservatives. Florida and Virginia have already banned explicit books in school libraries.

“It’s also important to understand that the world is watching,” Obama wrote. “If America — a nation built on freedom of expression — allows certain voices and ideas to be silenced, why should other countries go out of their way to protect them? Ironically, it is Christian and other religious texts — the sacred texts that some calling for book bannings in this country claim to want to defend — that have often been the first target of censorship and book banning efforts in authoritarian countries.”

Obama claimed that librarians are being “attacked” by people who do not understand the “vital” role that they play in society.

*For corrections please email [email protected]*