Jill Biden Says All Books Belong In School Libraries

In a recent interview, Jill Biden weighed in on which books should be removed from schools' libraries, asserting that all books belong in the library.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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Books are being challenged at rates never documented before. At the school level, the removal of longstanding, award-winning books like Maus, and popular transgender titles like Gender Queer is stirring national debate. So much so that even First Lady Jill Biden is now weighing in, making her viewpoint well-understood. 

Dr. Jill Biden recently sat down with Sheinelle Jones, an NBC News correspondent to discuss education’s hot topics making headlines. From teacher shortages, to book bannings, the 71-year-old had a lot to say. When asked if there should be “balance” in weighing in on which titles belong in school libraries and which don’t, the educator quickly jumped in, asserting that “all books should be in the library.”

“This is America. We don’t ban books,” Jill Biden added. But to the contrary, many books are being removed from school library shelves. The number one reason for this: graphic content and imagery. 

Many of the books being banned are popular titles depicting LGBTQ+ individuals. Likely, this is of concern to Jill Biden, as her husband currently pushes for more protection under Title IX for LGBTQ+ students in schools. But those seeking to ban these titles say it is not about the topic, but the inappropriate content found within.

Jill Biden didn’t touch on this book specifically, however, Gender Queer is being banned in school libraries all across the nation. This comes as parents discover pages with imagery depicting oral sex within. Oftentimes, lawmakers like those in Texas use this novel to depict how schools are thought to indoctrinate young children, or even groom and sexualize them.

The author of the contentious book has noted that she understands her novel may not be appropriate for all ages, or suitable for certain children. But she continues to vehemently defend her title and its purpose to resonate with transgender teenagers. It is because of the desire to make these minority students feel welcome, that advocates like Jill Biden continue to fight for their place in libraries.

At the same time, the topic of book bannings touches on another issue concerning many parents. While Jill Biden argues that all books belong in the library, parents argue that they deserve to know what material is being offered to their children. An incident reported by the Washington Examiner last year is the perfect example of how these two issues collide.

Last November, a mother was prohibited from entering her child’s school library inside a Virginia high school. The parent had recently made complaints about pornographic novels being accessible at a school board meeting. She was told that district policy restricted her from entering the library but argued that it was violating her parental rights. 

First Lady Jill Biden didn’t get any further into detail about her stance on book banning. But despite the growing call from conservative parents to restrict what type of material school children can access, others fear that outright banning them leads down a slippery slope. 

Jill Biden

Oftentimes, measures to ban books are compared to Nazi Germany. During the 1930s and ’40s, the Nazi regime burned books deemed un-German. Possibly, Jill Biden also fears that this uptick in restrictions could lead down a similar path.