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Free speech advocates defend anthology about teen homosexuality

Egypt is not the only place where authors run afoul of censorship. It also happens with distressing regularity in the so-called Land of the Free to Canada’s south. In the latest instance, the New Jersey chapter of conservative pundit Glenn Beck’s 9.12 Project has succeeded in getting an anthology of writing and art focusing on teen homosexuality removed from Rancocas Valley Regional High School. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, 9.12 member and local grandmother Beverley Marinelli challenged the book Revolutionary Voices: A Multicultural Queer Youth Anthology for being “pervasively vulgar, obscene, and inappropriate.”

Marinelli might have a fight on her hands. An article in the Guardian claims the issue has galvanized free speech and pro-GLBT organizations, which are rallying in support of Revolutionary Voices and two other books Marinelli’s group is attempting to get banned:

“There are undoubtedly GLBTQ [gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning] students at Rancocas Valley High School, regardless of whether they are openly recognised. Removing any of these titles would send a clear message to those students that they are the objects of social disapproval “ different, vulnerable, and marginal “ whose needs for information of particular relevance to their lives are not respected,” wrote the directors of a collection of organisations to the school’s board. The letter, the signatories to which include the National Coalition Against Censorship, the National Council of Teachers of English, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the Association of American Publishers, and PEN America, added that there was “no question that these books are not obscene.”

Marnielli, who insists that she “is not a homophobe,” is also trying to get Revolutionary Voices removed from the Lenape Regional High School District, New Jersey’s largest high school district.

When not trying to ban books, Marinelli spends her time protesting “indoctrination” of vulnerable American youth. The Philadelphia Inquirer points out that she recently participated in a demonstration at New Jersey’s B. Bernice Young Elementary School after seeing a video of schoolchildren singing a song praising U.S. president Barack Obama.

She told the Philadelphia Daily News: “We did it for the children.”