Renowned actor and steadfast LGBTQ+ ally LeVar Burton, along with more than 175 artists and authors, have lent their voices to an open letter denouncing the surge of anti-LGBTQ+ book bans across the nation. Spearheaded by the progressive political group MoveOn, the campaign, named “Artists Against Book Bans,” passionately calls for resistance against these restrictive measures.
The artists’ collective expressed profound concern about the alarming threat of censorship in the form of book bans, emphasizing the chilling impact it has on the creative landscape. In their statement, they underscored the significance of preserving free speech and expression, highlighting that government interference in what people produce, read, or consume is unacceptable.
Moreover, the letter serves as a clarion call, warning that such censorious efforts will not be confined to book bans alone. It anticipates a broader assault on various forms of art and entertainment, ultimately targeting marginalized communities, particularly Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) and LGBTQ+ individuals.
In a powerful appeal to unity, the artists declared, “As artists, we must band together because a threat to one form of art is a threat to us all.” They called upon everyone to resist these book bans, support open creative industries, and use their voices at the local level to thwart such measures in their school districts.
Prominent figures such as Guillermo del Toro, Bill Nye, Ariana Grande, Gabrielle Union, ALOK, Chris Mosier, Jason Collins, John Leguizamo, Margaret Cho, Padma Lakshmi, and others joined Burton in signing the letter. Burton himself expressed his pride in standing with artists and MoveOn members against censorship, urging people to uphold artistic freedom and reject book bans.
Recent reports from PEN America reveal that school bans on LGBTQ+ books are on the rise, primarily driven by Republican politicians, conservative school boards, and “parents’ rights” groups. Around one-third of the banned books nationally include LGBTQ+ themes and characters, with many school districts failing to uphold First Amendment protections.
LeVar Burton, known for his iconic role as Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation and his 23-year tenure as the host of Reading Rainbow, has consistently opposed LGBTQ+ book bans. He has encouraged young readers to explore banned books, emphasizing the value of diverse literature.
Burton’s commitment to LGBTQ+ rights extends beyond his advocacy against book bans, as he has served on the board of directors for the AIDS Research Alliance and has taken a strong stance against homophobic and Islamophobic speech on social media platforms.
The fight against anti-LGBTQ+ book bans continues, fueled by the unity and determination of artists, allies, and advocates like LeVar Burton, who stand unwavering in defense of artistic freedom and inclusivity.