Photo by Alexandra Mirgheș on Unsplash

Lock Your Doors, The American Morality Police Are Coming For You

In Iran, the so-called morality police are being blamed for the death of a 22-year-old woman who was detained after she did not wear the required headscarf or hajib.
In India, the nation’s version of morality police is used as a cover for vigilantes to punish and sometimes kill countrymen and women for violating Indian morality norms.
In the U.S., the morality police may be a bit more subtle but they have been increasingly busy on several fronts, from book banning, to limiting LGBTQ freedoms, to some lawmakers who want to stop funding an agency that works to protect religious rights. And the vigilante morality police have been involved in attacks on Asian Americans, orthodox Jews and Muslims.
An increasing number of states are asserting their sense of morality by restricting gender-affirming care for trans children. More than 200 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced at the state level this year alone, according to the LGBTQ rights group, Freedom for All Americans.
Last Friday, a court filing revealed that the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) pulled a 13-year-old child out of class to interrogate the student about his medical history and his gender identity, without his parents’ knowledge. Investigators then visited the child’s mom and similarly questioned her.
Lambda Legal and the ACLU have taken Texas to court on behalf of all current and future members of LGBTQ and the parental advocacy group PFLAG, seeking to limit the state from investigating PFLAG families.
The morality police also include those bullies who have traditionally picked on children for their different gender perceptions. A 2015 study of 6 to 10-year-olds in South Africa found that inclusion and exclusion from play is used to punish girls who are not perceived as feminine and boys who are perceived as too feminine. And a 2012 study linked gender nonconformity with an increased risk of child abuse and post-traumatic stress.
Most recently, Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin has proposed new policies for the state’s schools regarding how they treat transgender students, including restricting the bathrooms they can use and which pronouns they may go by. The new rules will effect the more than 1 million children enrolled in the state’s public school system.
The Virginia Department of Education says the basis for the new rules is to support “the rights of parents” to determine their child’s exposure to LGBTQ issues. The reality is that the state is asserting ethical beliefs as described by its politicians and constituents.
The new standards “reaffirms the rights of parents to determine how their children will be raised and educated. Empowering parents is not only a fundamental right, but it is essential to improving outcomes for all children in Virginia,” according to a statement from the Virginia education department.

The law that has generated the most controversy is Florida’s “Stop WOKE Act”(HB 7), which prohibits teaching Critical Race Theory in schools, and the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which bans instruction involving gender and sexual orientation for many young students.
USAFacts reported that 14 laws restricting the LGBTQ community were passed in 2022 while just three states passed laws expanding protections for LGBTQ Americans. According to USAFacts:
At least 12 states passed laws restricting access to healthcare or public facilities, or discussion of gender issues in schools or workplaces.
At least two states, Alabama and Arizona, passed laws in 2022 preventing transgender children from receiving gender-affirming care.
New laws in Alabama and Oklahoma require public facilities such as restrooms to be used according to a person’s sex, and not their gender.
Laws passed in Alabama, Florida, and South Dakota prohibit teachers and schools from instructing some students about issues of gender or sexuality. Schools violating the law are subject to lawsuits from parents and can be subject to financial penalties, including attorney fees.
At least eight states passed laws in 2022 keeping student athletes from participating in youth sports for a team of the opposite sex. Six of the eight states apply the law to kindergarten through 12th grades and higher education as well.
The growing hate toward the LGBTQ community has also taken its toll on educators. In one example, in Brooklyn, eighth-grade social studies teacher Talia Avrahami, a trans woman, resigned from her position at the Magen David Yeshivah. She had held the position for only one week before social media erupted with a firestorm of harassment against he.
Self-appointed guardians of morality have become increasingly violent, particularly against abortion clinics.
The National Abortion Federation reports that since 1977 in the United States and Canada, there have been at least 11 murders, 17 attempted murders, 383 death threats, 153 incidents of assault or battery, 13 wounded, 100 butyric acid stink bomb attacks, 373 physical invasions, 41 bombings, 655 anthrax threats and three kidnappings committed against abortion providers. Between 1977 and 1990, 77 death threats were made, with 250 made between 1991 and 1999.
In the United States, violence directed towards abortion providers has killed at least 11 people, including four doctors, two clinic employees, a security guard, a police officer, two unrelated people and a clinic escort.
Vigilante violence included the March 10, 1993, murder of gynecologist David Gunn of Pensacola, Fla. He had been the subject of wanted-style posters distributed by Operation Rescue in the summer of 1992. Another was on July 29, 1994, when John Britton, a physician, and James Barrett, a clinic escort, were both shot to death outside another facility, the Ladies Center, in Pensacola.
On Dec. 30, 1994, two receptionists, Shannon Lowney and Lee Ann Nichols, were killed in two clinic attacks in Brookline, Mass.
On Jan. 29, 1998, Robert Sanderson, an off-duty police officer who worked as a security guard at an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Ala., was killed when his workplace was bombed.
On Oct. 23, 1998, Barnett Slepian, an abortion provider, was shot to death at his home in Amherst, N.Y.
On Nov. 27, 2015, a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Color., left three dead and several injured.
The most recent issue involving lawmakers and protecting religious freedom came on Monday when four House Republicans vote against a bill to reauthorize appropriations for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. The legislation passed in the House by a 402–4 vote. Voting against were four of the most right wing Republican lawmakers, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Kent. and Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas. A total of 26 lawmakers, 13 Democrats and 13 Republicans, did not vote.
The Senate passed the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Reauthorization Act unanimously in July after it was introduced earlier this year by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, established through the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act, is an independent, bipartisan federal commission that keeps track of violations of religious freedom internationally and proposes policy recommendations to the president, secretary of state and Congress.
According to a published report, a spokesperson for Massie said the congressman voted against the bill “because he doesn’t want the government involved in religion; he would prefer the government leave religion alone.”
Gohmert, Greene and Roy did not comment.
The commission’s latest report, published earlier in September, outlines how violence in Nigeria is impacting religious freedom. Afghanistan is expected to be named ti the list of the worst violators of religious freedom after the Taliban’s return to power.
Another ongoing front by the morality police involves book bannings. The American Library Association reported Friday that the numbers of attempted book banning and restrictions for 2022 already approach last year’s totals, which were the highest in decades.
The most targeted books have included Maia Kobabe’s graphic memoir about sexual identity, “Gender Queer,” and Jonathan Evison’s “Lawn Boy,” a coming-of-age novel narrated by a young gay man, according to the library association. Criticism of books with LGBTQ subject matter is intensifying along with books about racism such as Angie Thomas’ novel “The Hate U Give.”
PEN America’s Index of School Book Bans showed 2,535 books were banned in Florida alone, from July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022. The books run the gamut from “Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the U.S.” by Michelle Alexander to “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou to “The Handmaids Tale” by Margaret Atwood and many taboo subjects in between.
The activities of the conservative morality police have grown over the past two years. Librarians who have been harassed include a middle school librarian in Denham Springs, La., who filed a legal complaint against a Facebook page which labeled her a “criminal and a pedophile.”
Kimber Glidden, director of the Boundary County Library in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, resigned after months of harassment that included people shouting Biblical passages referring to divine punishment.
Voters in Jamestown Township, Michigan, backed drastic cuts in the local library over objections to “Gender Queer” and other LGBTQ books.
Lisa R. Varga, executive director of the Virginia Library Association, said librarians have received threatening emails and have been videotaped on the job. Becky Calzada, library coordinator for the Leander Independent School District in Texas, said she has friends who have left the profession and colleagues who are afraid and “feel threatened.”
Banned Books Week, which begins Sunday, will be promoted around the country through table displays, posters, bookmarks and stickers and through readings, essay contests and other events highlighting contested works. Banned Books Weeks is overseen by a coalition of writing and free speech organizations, including the National Coalition Against Censorship, the Authors Guild and PEN America.
Here is a list in alphabetical order of all the books banned in Florida’s school districts since July 2021:
The Haters by Jesse Andrews,
Damsel by Elana K. Arnold,
Infandous by Elana K. Arnold,
Red Hood by Elana K. Arnold,
What Girls Are Made Of by Elana K. Arnold,
This Book Is Gay by Juno Dawson
Crank (Crank Series) by Ellen Hopkins
Tilt by Ellen Hopkins
Triangles by Ellen Hopkins
Tricks (Tricks Series) by Ellen Hopkins
Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson,
Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Sold by Patricia McCormick
The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
Push by Sapphire
Lucky by Alice Sebold
Not My Problem by Ciara Smyth
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki
All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Ace of Spades by Àbíké-Íyímídé, Faridah
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo,
How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship & Musical Theater (Edward Zanni Series) by Marc Acito
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Girls Like Us (2019) by Cristina Alger
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
Hear These Voices: Youth at the Edge of the Millennium by Anthony Allison
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Feed by M. T. Anderson
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
The Haters by Jesse Andrews
Wishtree by Katherine Applegate
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Sorted: Growing Up, Coming Out, and Finding My Place by Jackson Bird
Boy2Girl by Terence Blacker
Bowery Girl by Kim Taylor Blakemore
Someone I Used to Know by Patty Blount
Forever… by Judy Blume
Black Girl Unlimited: The Remarkable Story of a Teenage Wizard by Echo Brown
Ready or Not (All-American Girl Series) by Meg Cabot
King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender
Draw Me a Star by Eric Carle
Graceling (Graceling Realm Series) by Kristin Cashore
Awakened (House of Night Series) by P. C. Cast
Betrayed (House of Night Series) by P. C. Cast
Burned (House of Night Series) by P. C. Cast
Chosen (House of Night Series) by P. C. Cast
Destined (House of Night Series) by P. C. Cast
Hidden (House of Night Series) by P. C. Cast
Hunted (House of Night Series) by P. C. Cast
Marked (House of Night Series) by P. C. Cast
Redeemed (House of Night Series) by P. C. Cast
Revealed (House of Night Series) by P. C. Cast
Tempted (House of Night Series) by P. C. Cast
Untamed (House of Night Series) by P. C. Cast
The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments Series) by Cassandra Clare
Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck by Adam Cohen
The Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal
Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert
The Facts Speak for Themselves by Brock Cole
Rift (Nightshade Prequel Series) by Andrea Cremer
Mexican Whiteboy by Matt de la Peña
Blended by Sharon M. Draper
Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
Perfect Chemistry (Perfect Chemistry Series) by Simone Elkeles
Who Am I Without Him?: A Short Story Collection about Girls and Boys in Their Lives by Sharon G. Flake
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley
Dime by E. R. Frank
The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person by Joseph Frederick
Lush by Natasha Friend
A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities by Mady G.
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay
Melissa (George) by Alex Gino
Joshua and the City by Joseph F. Girzone
The Vincent Boys (The Vincent Boys Series) by Abbi Glines
Cross My Heart (Cross My Heart Series) by Sasha Gould
Looking for Alaska by John Green
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
What We Saw by Hartzler, Aaron
Black Lives Matter: From a Moment to a Movement by Hillstrom, Laurie Collier
Crank (Crank Series) by Ellen Hopkins
Perfect (Impulse Series) by Ellen Hopkins
Traffick (Tricks Series) by Ellen Hopkins
Triangles by Ellen Hopkins
Tricks (Tricks Series) by Ellen Hopkins
The Kite Runner by Hosseini, Khaled
Brave Face: A Memoir by Hutchinson, Shaun David
Brave New World by Huxley, Aldous
This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work by Jewell, Tiffany
The Breakaways by Johnson, Cathy G.
All Boys Aren’t Blue by Johnson, George M.
This Is My America by Johnson, Kim
Exit, Pursued by a Bear by Johnston, E. K.
How to Be an Antiracist by Kendi, Ibram X.
They Called Me Red by Kilbourne, Christina
The Music of What Happens by Konigsberg, Bill
Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Kuklin, Susan
Trail of Crumbs by Lisa J. Lawrence
My Book of Life by Angel by Martine Leavitt
I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee
Rape On Campus by Bruno Leone,
Fly on the Wall: How One Girl Saw Everything by E. Lockhart
Real Live Boyfriends: Yes. Boyfriends, Plural. If My Life Weren’t Complicated, I Wouldn’t Be Ruby Oliver by E. Lockhart
Thanks a Lot, Universe by Chad Lucas
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Charmed by Carrie Mac
Strange Fruit: Why Both Sides Are Wrong in the Race Debate by Kenan Malik
Did I Mention I Need You? (DIMILY Series) by Estelle Maskame
The Truth About Alice: A Novel by Patricia McCormick
Sold by Joy McCullough
Blood Water Paint by Charlton D. McIlwain
Black Software: The Internet & Racial Justice, from the Afronet to Black Lives Matter by Richelle Mead
Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy Series) by Meg Medina
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Tony Medina
I Am Alfonso Jones by J. P. Miller
Brave Leaders and Activists by Ken Mochizuki
Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Monster by Walter Dean Myers
l8r, g8r by Lauren Myracle
The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle
The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
The Witch Boy (The Witch Boy Series) by Molly Knox Ostertag
The Best at It by Maulik Pancholy
Sisters/Hermanas by Gary Paulsen
Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez
grl2grl by Julie Anne Peters
My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult
The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Living Proud! Coming Out and Seeking Support (Living Proud! Growing Up Lgbtq) by Robert Rodi
Lucy Peale by Colby Rodowsky
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Aristotle and Dante Series) by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Bait by Alex Sanchez
Rainbow Boys (Rainbow Trilogy Series) by Alex Sanchez
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez
Lucky by Alice Sebold
Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow
Safe by Susan Shaw
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
Marriage of a Thousand Lies by S. J. Sindu
Grasshopper Jungle (Grasshopper Jungle Series) by Andrew Smith
The Opposite of Innocent by Sonya Sones
What My Mother Doesn’t Know (What My Mother Doesn’t Know Series) by Sonya Sones
Maus 1: A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman
Deogratias: A Tale of Rwanda by Jean-Philippe Stassen
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
Odd One Out by Nic Stone
A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki
Drama: A Graphic Novel by Raina Telgemeier
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
#BlackLivesMatter: Protesting Racism by Rachael L. Thomas
Blankets by Craig Thompson
Gossip Girl: A Novel by Cecily von Ziegesar (Gossip Girl Series) by Cecily von Ziegesar
Spinning by Tillie Walden
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Empty by K. M. Walton
A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb
What Is Black Lives Matter? (What was…? Series) by Lakita Wilson
Doing It!: Let’s Talk About Sex by Hannah Witton
Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America by Ibi Zoboi
Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe
Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
Melissa (George) by Alex Gino
The Vincent Boys (The Vincent Boys Series) by Abbi Glines
It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health by Robie H. Harris
Tricks (Tricks Series) by Ellen Hopkins
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini,
I am Jazz by Jazz Jennings
Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan,
Real Live Boyfriends: Yes. Boyfriends, Plural. If My Life Weren’t Complicated, I Wouldn’t Be Ruby Oliver by E. Lockhart
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
Drama: A Graphic Novel by Raina Telgemeier.

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