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Letter: North Dakota’s HB 1205 is all about censorship

House Bill 1205 seeks to censor the free distribution of knowledge in North Dakota.

Letter to the editor FSA
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Growing up in rural North Dakota in the late 1990s and early 2000s, I looked for a book that didn’t exist. Because conversations around sexual identity didn’t take place where I grew up. As a closeted gay boy I felt like an outcast.

Now books – including my own – line library bookshelves to help LGBTQIA+ persons feel affirmed and seen. But House Bill 1205 seeks to censor the free distribution of knowledge in North Dakota, including books like my memoir,” Boys and Oil: Growing Up Gay in a Fractured Land.”

The bill, in its vagueness, targets books like mine, which seek to show an expansive sense of what it means to be human on the Great Plains. Supporters of the bill seek to shove queer people back into the closet, limit access to information in our last houses of democracy – libraries – and create the conditions for further hateful legislation targeting the queer community.

North Dakotans must stand up.

Bill 1205 is in direct opposition to the basis of free speech in this country, allowing anyone to complain about a book in a public library, and then further mandating that the library remove said book. Library patrons are not forced to read anything they don’t want – that’s the beautiful thing about libraries, but now patrons may infringe on others’ rights to access books and information.

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It is time to stand up for free speech, to protect those most vulnerable in our society, and to stop Bill 1205 from going forward.

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