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The Official Student News Media of Southeastern Louisiana University

The Lion's Roar

The Official Student News Media of Southeastern Louisiana University

The Lion's Roar

Local librarians bash book bans

Jacob White
Lynette Mejia (second to left) talking to audience members, during the “Book Bans in Louisiana” panel discussion, about the rise of book bans in her local community.

Librarians Amanda Jones, Lynette Mejia and Kristen Luchsinger recently spoke about their experiences during the Book Bans in Louisiana panel discussion in the Student Union Theater. 

Libraries across the country are facing increasing scrutiny over the books available to patrons, with some calling for the removal of LGBTQIA+ material in the teen and young adult sections. 

Jones, an educator and school librarian, has made national headlines for fighting against book bans in her community. She explained librarians determine what books are appropriate to order by following professional reviews and age-level ratings of the books, and the books that have been challenged are targeted because of discrimination.

“If you’re looking at the top banned books across the country, the books are about and by authors of color or authors who are a part of the LGBTQIA+ community,” Jones said. “What we’re seeing now is an ‘othering’ of people and a devaluing of libraries.”

Mejia shared why she believes people should care about this issue.

“Intellectual freedom and the freedom to access information in our public and school libraries are the most important things on the ballot being voted on this year because everything else comes from that,” Mejia said.

Colors Futrell, a senior sociology major, expressed interest in learning about book bans in Louisiana from the event and felt optimistic about the situation.

“I hadn’t heard anything definitive about book bans in Louisiana and it was really good to get that perspective on what exactly is going on here. It was a bit comforting to see even though we have a bunch of people trying to ban books, nothing is actually getting banned,” Futrell said. 

Mejia talked about some of the effects of book-banning efforts she has witnessed in her parish.

“We no longer have a Lafayette teen nonfiction section in our library, all of them were reshelved in the adult section. People say frequently, ‘It’s not a ban, they were just moved.’ But any time you restrict access to a book, that is a book ban,” Mejia said.

Jones further explained the unlawful aspects of these book bannings.

“If you’re removing books from the shelf and restricting them while going through a challenge process, you are already violating the Fourteenth Amendment due process clause. When you look at the fact the majority of those books are from the LGBTQIA+ community, you’re violating the protection clause,” Jones said.

On the topic of queer people and people of color, Jones gave her opinion on banning books featuring these individuals in libraries.

“We have those families in our parish. We have those families in every parish and they are also taxpayers. They deserve to have books about themselves and their families in the library just like everybody else,” Jones said.

To shed light on the benefits of local libraries, Jones listed community services provided by libraries, including Wi-Fi services, after-school services, storytimes, language learning, help with writing taxes, book clubs, career services, learning kits, databases of school books and cultural passes to local museums. She explained the possible effects of defunding libraries.

“The library serves many needs of our community and when they start cutting funding, which is what they’re going for, the branches that will likely close are the ones in the most rural and poorest communities. It’s not going to affect the people who have money, it’s going to harm the people who are already trying to get a leg up and better themselves,” Jones said.

Jones talked about the negative effects book bannings are currently having on librarians across the country and her personal experience speaking out against the efforts.

“I saw my reputation destroyed in my small town in Livingston Parish. I received an actual death threat that not only threatened me but my place of work, and I work at a school. I live in constant fear now… I can name fifty librarians across the country the same thing has happened to. It’s happening all over the country,” Jones said.

On a personal note, Jones shared why she chose to speak out against book banning in Louisiana.

“[I’m] going to speak out on behalf of every child I taught who I lost because my town ostracized them for being a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. I’m speaking for them,” Jones said.

“We’re the ones who need to show up and support our libraries,” Luchsinger concluded.

Anyone who would like to learn more can reach out to the St. Tammany Library Alliance, co-founded by Luchsinger, or the Louisiana Citizens Against Censorship, founded by Mejia.

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About the Contributors
Yumi Domangue
Yumi Domangue, Graphics Editor
Yumi Domangue is a double major in mechatronics engineering technology and new media and animation. She joined Student Publications in the Fall of 2021 as a graphic designer. She intends to use her skills to have a career in design.
Jacob White
Jacob White, Staff Reporter
Jacob White is an English major and Spanish minor from Addis. He joined The Lion’s Roar in the Spring 2024 semester and will be graduating in the Fall 2024. After graduating, he plans to continue his educational career in graduate school where he hopes to continue studying English and eventually become a professor or work in the publishing industry. Jacob enjoys listening to music, writing, reading and learning new things. He loves to read science fiction, dystopian fiction,  historical fiction, classic literature and contemporary literature.  
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    Momo MooreApr 30, 2024 at 3:47 pm

    Hi, I attended this panel and would like to note that only one of the panelists (Amanda Jones) is a librarian. Lynette Mejia of Lafayette is a mother who is active in her community, while Kristen Luchsinger’s credentials within the panel were as she is a co-founder of St. Tammany Parish (a local Queer advocacy group.)