Alice Oseman slams ‘thriving’ homophobia following Heartstopper book ban in Florida

On the left, the cover of graphic novel Heartstopper volume 1. On the right, Alice Oseman wearing a blue jacket.

Alice Oseman’s seminal graphic novel series Heartstopper has joined the growing list of LGBTQ+ books banned in certain parts of the US.

According to the Florida Freedom to Read Project, more than fifty books were banned in the Clay County school district in Florida last week (24 March), many of which are written by LGBTQ+ authors or discuss sexuality or gender identity.

The list of banned books includes the first three volumes of Oseman’s Heartstopper, as well as her 2016 novel Radio Silence, which features a number of queer characters.

Other books removed in the latest round of book bans in the district include LGBTQ+ young adult romance novel One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva, and comic A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns.

The Florida Freedom to Read Project shared that a total of 355 books have now been removed from the school district since July 2022.

Along with LGBTQ+ books, the bans are impacting Black authors and books about and racism and racial justice.

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Responding to the Heartstopper ban, Alice Oseman decried the growing number of book bans as thinly-veiled homophobia.

“Racism, homophobia and transphobia are thriving under the guise of ‘concern for children’. This is not just a US issue either,” Oseman warned. “We’re seeing the exact same ‘concern’ here in the UK.”

She also shared a statement by the Florida Freedom to Read Project, with the quote: “Indoctrination happens when you remove access to ideas.”

Alice Oseman responds on Instagram to Heartstopper being banned by a Florida school district.
Alice Oseman condemned “homophobia” under the guise of ‘concern for children’. (Instagram/@aliceoseman)

Rising anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment has led to a record number of individual book bans in the US, with one report indicating that 2,532 books were banned in the 2021/2022 school year. 

More than half of those banned feature LGBTQ+ characters or discussions. 

A separate report indicates that there were around 1,200 attempts to ban books in the US in 2022, more than double the record set in 2021.

Last week (22 March), a school district in New York received a bomb threat due to the simple fact that it stocks LGBTQ+ books. Meanwhile, staff at a library in Cork, Ireland, were called “paedophile slurs” because the library had LGBTQ+ literature on the shelves.

One of the most-banned books in the US is This Book Is Gay by Juno Dawson, who recently hit out at the “organised attack” on LGBTQ+ literature.

Juno Dawson
Author Juno Dawson has addressed book bans in US, including of her work. (Credit: Getty Images)

“What we’re seeing now is a really organised attack on books because the far-right is out of ideas. What else can you attack but trans healthcare, drag queens, books,” Dawson said in an Instagram statement on 26 March.

“So I just want to say a huge thank you to all the librarians and educators who are defending freedom of speech and the right for young LGBTQ+ people to see themselves in books. Stand strong in full solidarity.”

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