According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, last year there were 13 attempts to ban certain books in New Jersey schools. It’s been happening hot and heavy across the country and as a result there’s legislation floating around Trenton that would deny state funds to districts that engage in book banning.

Much of this has centered on the fear schools were somehow trying to “indoctrinate” our children into an LGBTQ+ life. (Uhh, why would they want to? Why would they care?)

With all the talk of canceling books, it’s interesting to know one of the most banned authors in the nation is from right here in New Jersey and they don’t like what they’re seeing.

George M. Johnson wrote “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” which is the writer’s perspective on having grown up black and queer in Plainfield and is structured as a series of letters and essays. It’s poignant, and in an interview with NJ Monthly they share that many young people have said the book changed their life or even saved it.


People in some New Jersey school districts want it out. Finished. Unavailable. Banned. When asked about young people being influenced to try on an LGBTQ+ lifestyle the way you’d casually try on shoes, Johnson doesn’t buy it.

“What I think is happening now is there’s this fear that because we are more visible now, it is making the youth choose to be like us. But what’s actually happening is that because we’re more visible now, other people feel safer to be visible, too—people who have always been like us. And now we don’t feel like we have to hide in the ways we did during Stonewall or during the Harlem Renaissance or during other periods in this country,” they said.

Johnson grew up in a big family that knew the writer was different as a boy. Although he came off effeminate, George's family was never shaming or shunning about it. George was included in everything, which is what makes them think they were able to become comfortable with their identity and create and write for others.

George M. Johnson
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Is this writing creating any danger of indoctrination? I think a young 11-year-old boy who stood up to speak at a Glen Ridge board meeting about book banning said it better than the writer.

The boy, who identifies as bisexual, said, “I’ve been forced to read heterosexual books my whole life and they’re not turning me heterosexual. So, reading books are not going to turn your straight kids gay.”

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From Stonewall to the 2022 midterm elections, Stacker takes a look back at over 50 years of significant moments in the LGBTQ+ community in the United States and around the world.

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