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Banned Books — Censorship, Free Expression, and LGBTQ Identity

February 28, 5:30 pm7 pm.
Free

Over the past few years, challenges to books written by or about LGBTQ people—as well as those by or about racial and ethnic minorities—have been on the rise. This trend has especially impacted books that are intended for young audiences. In 2023 alone, more than 1,900 attempts were made to ban books from school libraries in the United States.

Featuring a panel of authors whose books have been subject to bans, this event will examine the context surrounding the surge in calls to censor books that depict the lives of LGBTQ people. In addition, panelists will discuss potential policy solutions that could help protect free expression.

Panelists:

Adriana Herrera (she/her) is a USA Today bestselling and Audie Award-winning author who was born and raised in the Caribbean. She is the author of more than 20 romance novels and anthologies, many of which feature LGBTQ and Afro-Latinx characters. Her books include American Dreamer, a Today Show best read about a food truck owner who moves to upstate New York and falls in love with a librarian. The New York Times praised one of her books as “sweet, thoughtful, and delightfully filthy too.” She is also a trauma therapist in New York City, working with survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

Vicki Johnson (she/her) is a children’s book author and a 2022 Lambda Literary Fellow. Her debut picture book Molly’s Tuxedo is a 2024 National Council of Teachers of English Charlotte Huck Award for outstanding fiction for children. Molly’s Tuxedo was illustrated by Gillian Reid and published by Little Bee Books (June, 2023). She is a first-generation graduate of Smith College and Emory University Law School and studied writing for children & young adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Kyle Lukoff (he/him) is the author of many books for young readers. His debut middle-grade novel, Too Bright to See, received a Newbery Honor, the Stonewall Award, and was a National Book Award finalist. His picture book When Aidan Became a Brother also won the Stonewall, and his book Call Me Max has been banned in schools across the country. He has forthcoming books about apologies, death, unicycles, and many other topics. While becoming a writer he worked for 10 years as a bookseller, and another nine as a school librarian.

Boon Lin Ngeo (he/him) was born and raised in Malaysia and is currently teaching at Hunter College in the Women and Gender Studies department. He is a prolific writer of more than 40 books and numerous bestsellers in Malaysia, and is the country’s first openly gay Christian minister. One of the most sought-after speakers in LGBTI Chinese communities in Asia, he was instrumental in establishing more than 15 LGBTI Christian fellowships and churches in mainland China and Malaysia. His activism has been reported on by CNN and the New York Times and he has been named one of the most inspiring LGBT religious leaders in the world by The Huffington Post. His book Gay is OK: A Christian Perspective was banned by the Malaysian government in 2020. He challenged the ban in the high court and won the case in February 2022, but the government filed an appeal in March 2022, and, by a 2-1 decision in September 2023, the government’s ban on the book was restored. Ngeo is currently appealing.

Erin Mayo-Adam (she/her), moderator, is the Director of the LGBTQ Policy Center at Roosevelt House, an assistant professor in the Political Science Department, and a member of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Faculty and Curriculum Committee. She is the author of Queer Alliances: How Power Shapes Political Movement Formation and has published in numerous academic outlets, including the Law & Society ReviewLaw & Social Inquiry, and the Oxford Encyclopedia of LGBT Politics and Policy. Her research is situated in the fields of American politics, law and society, and political theory and bridges scholarship on social movements, interest groups and public policy, intersectionality, gender and sexuality, and migration and labor politics.

This event is co-sponsored by the CUNY LGBTQ Advisory Council and it is made possible by the generous support of the New York City Council and the CUNY LGBTQ Consortium.