GLAD Celebrates Latin American Authors During Banned Books Week

There have been attempts at censorship in some states across the country, which include banning books and laws going so far as to ban talks in school about race, gender, LGBTQ+ identities and disabilities. During this Latin American Heritage Month, we celebrate the creative contributions of authors of Latino and Hispanic descent whose books have been challenged or banned in classrooms or school libraries. At the end of Banned Books Week, we’re excited to share a little about these individuals and highlight their work.

Students and faculty alike are harmed by censoring information or passing laws that prevent us from speaking about our identity, family and heritage. It also makes it impossible for us to reckon honestly with America’s history of marginalization. GLAD continues to fight these school censorship efforts, as we did in New Hampshire with our lawsuit against Mejia et al. do. v. Edelblut et al. because everyone deserves to be included and empowered in school.

Photo of Carmen and the cover of her book In the Dream House

In the dream house

Carmen Maria Machado is an author, essayist, and critic who grew up in Allentown, Pennsylvania. She is best known for Your body and other parties (2017). your memories, In the dream house (2019), was a recipient of the 2020 Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Nonfiction and was hailed for Manchado’s “valiant exposure of a painful experience and a reckoning with our collective failure to truly deal with queer intimate partner abuse.” This book is on the Central York School District’s banned books list and has been challenged in many other states.

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Photo of Gabby Rivera and the cover of Juliet Takes A Breath

Julia takes a deep breath

Born in the Bronx, Gabby Rivera grew up in a religious evangelical household. She is known for creating strong Latina characters such as queer Marvel superhero America Chavez and Juliet Milagros Palante, the title character in Juliet Takes a Breath. Juliet Takes a Breath is a coming-of-age story that explores coming-out, intersectionality, feminism and “the whole Puerto Rican lesbian thing.” Although this book was widely praised, including by Roxane Gay, who called it “freakin’ brilliant,” the Forsyth County School District, Georgia, included it on its banned books list, stating that they can remove books that are “pervasively vulgar”.

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Benjamin Saénz and the cover of his book Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Aristotle and Dante discover the mysteries of the universe

Award-winning author Benjamin Alire Sáenz was born and raised in New Mexico. One of his most decorated novels, Aristotle and Dante discover the mysteries of the universe is a coming-of-age story about two gay Mexican-American teenagers, their friendship and struggle with their identity. Although this book was widely acclaimed and even voted one of Time Magazine’s 100 Greatest Young Adult Novels of All Time (alongside Catcher in the Rye, little womanand Killing a mockingbird), has appeared on a list of proposed banned books by a Texas legislature.

Image of the cover of Adam Silvera's book They Both Die at the End

Both end up dying

Adam Silvera was born and raised in the South Bronx. His third novel Both end up dying The main characters are a gay Puerto Rican and a bisexual Cuban. Although widely recognized, it has appeared on a list of proposed banned books by a Texas legislature.

Photo of Ana Castillo and the cover of So Far From God

So far from God

Ana Castillo was born in Chicago, Illinois. Castillo is known for her experimental style as a Latina novelist. Her book So far from God deals with issues such as rebellion, spirituality and gender. Although it was hailed as a Chicana LGBT+ feminist book, it was banned by the Tucson Unified School District in Arizona.

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Photo by Gloria Anzaldúa and the cover of Borderlands/La Frontera

Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza

Gloria Anzaldúa was born in South Texas. She has contributed foundational texts on Chicana cultural theory, feminist theory, Latinx philosophy, and queer theory. Her semi-autobiographical book Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza talks about her life on the Mexico-Texas border and was banned from the Tucson Unified School District in Arizona.

Cover of Cemetery Boys book by Aiden Thomas

graveyard boys

Aiden Thomas is a Latinx writer of young adult fiction. Her most famous work graveyard boys was a New York Times bestseller and has won numerous awards, including recognition for Best Book of the Year from the American Library Association, Publishers Weekly, Barnes and Noble, NPR, and School Library Journal. graveyard boys follows the magical story of a transgender boy and his journey to be accepted by his traditional Latinx family and community of Brujos. This book has appeared on a list of proposed banned books by a Texas legislature.

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