Juno Dawson’s This Book Is Gay is the ninth most banned book in America. In the near-decade since its 2014 publication, it has become a touchstone for readers seeking solace and education in the highly underrepresented area of LGBTQ+ sex education. The book was intended as an instruction manual for those not finding answers to questions about gender, sex, and sexuality.
“I felt as a former teacher, sex education for LGBTQ+ teenagers wasn’t very good,” Dawson explained in a heartfelt video posted to Instagram. “They weren’t really learning anything about safety in relationships.”
Dawson wrote the book to give hope to those who found their journey rife with confusion instead of wonder and hope, and This Book Is Gay found its audience, positively affected readers’ lives, and became a bestseller along the way. “This book is truly something I wish I had growing up when I was figuring out who I am,” said Corey Evans, in a Goodreads review. “It should be a must read for all teens so that they never have to feel alone; it should be a must read for any parent whose child has come out to them,” said L.J. Evans in their Goodreads review.
But Dawson’s book has become the target, like so many books as of late, of book banning and other censorship efforts. West High School in the Sioux City Community School District in Iowa removed This Book Is Gay after it was featured on TikTok and subsequently targeted by users on Twitter calling it “pornographic,” and the book was named during a bomb threat that targeted the Hilton Central School District in Hilton, N.Y., on March 22.
“Censorship groups think they’re going to influence young people by banning books,” said Dominique Raccah, CEO of Sourcebooks, which published This Book Is Gay. “All they’re doing is creating more demand for incredible stories, and helping us all come together in defense of the freedom to read.”
The attempts to ban Dawson's book are not isolated incidents: the book was one of 34 consistently challenged books in 2022, according to a recent report from the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom. In 2022 alone, the report found, there were 1,269 attempts to ban books in libraries, although 71% of voters oppose censorship and 67% oppose the efforts to ban books from school libraries, according to the Unite Against Book Bans campaign and ALA findings.
“What we’re seeing now is a very organized attack on books, because the far right is out of ideas,” Dawson said in the video. “Thank you to all the librarians and educators who are defending freedom of speech,” and added: “Stand strong in full solidarity.”