Updated: Dec 20, 2022
Advocates for banning some books from our schools have spoken at recent School Board meetings. Below is a letter from citizen Robbie Hinkel, presented in absentia, at the December 12 board meeting.
To Whom it May Concern:
My name is Robbie Hinkel and I live on Silver Street here in Dover. I apologize I am not able to
attend the School Board meeting in person, but I am out of town traveling for work. I’m a City Councilor in Ward 2, but I’m writing today as a concerned private citizen. I’m a proud LGBTQ American who has a Constitutional right, like every person in this room, to First Amendment protections on freedom of speech, expression and information. To be clear, I’m writing with regard to attempts by a small, but vocal minority to ban books with LGBTQ+ themes from our Public and School libraries.
If people object to the content of certain books, they have every right to choose not to read them. Similarly, in our schools, these books are available by choice and are not required reading. However, those who object DO NOT have any right to attempt to limit my, or anyone else’s access to these books.
Growing up in a heteronormative society can be particularly hard for LGBTQ Americans. Accurate, non-stereotypical representations of life as an LGBTQ individual are few and far between, and these books represent some of the few ways LGBTQ Americans can find representation of their own identities depicted in media. You probably wouldn’t know it unless you’d experienced it yourself, but growing up LGBTQ can be very isolating. Add bullying on top of that and things can get really dark, really fast. These books are often the only means young LGBTQ Americans have for finding a sense of community and belonging. So, finding that belonging within the pages of these books not only helps young people struggling with their identity to feel seen, but it often saves lives. Try to think about an experience you went through that made you feel completely alone. Now think about how much better it made you feel when you discovered, through television, music, or BOOKS, that someone else had been through the same struggle and survived.
Whether you object to the content, themes or characters of these books or not, they represent the truths of the lives of LGBTQ Americans, a truth that cannot and will not be silenced. One of the founding principles of our democracy is freedom of access to information. The Supreme Court of the United States already set precedent on this issue in 1982 in the case Board of Education, Island Trees Union Free School District No. 26 v. Pico by Pico. The Court ruled that removing books from the school library just because some people objected to the content of those books violated the First Amendment rights of the students. Banning books simply based on the content is not only dystopian and draconian, but would open our libraries up to lawsuits for unconstitutionality.
I strongly urge the Board to consider the mental health and the very lives of the students they serve, especially students who are already marginalized. I further urge the Board to follow the law and protect the Constitutional rights of the students, and reject any attempts to ban books based on LGBTQ themes, content or characters.
View videos of recent School Board meetings on City of Dover's Channel 22: https://dovernh.viebit.com/index.php?folder=ALL