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Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag

book cover for Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag

Author Rob Sanders
Illustrator Steven Salerno

Book type: Picture book, ages 3-9

Where it is banned:

Pride tells the story of Harvey Milk, San Francisco’s first openly gay mayor, designer Gilbert Baker, and the rainbow-colored Gay Pride flag they first unveiled in 1978. Author Rob Sanders was inspired to write the book when the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2015, and his text contains a message of hope and empowerment. The illustrations by Steven Salerno are bright and vibrant, and contain motifs such as a paisley patter which are reflective of the 1970s. Upon being published in 2018, the book was selected as an Amazon Best Children’s Book of the Year and a Junior Library Guild Selection. It was also praised by the Harvey Milk Foundation.

Predictably — books on LGBTQ+ themes are the most banned — the book’s inclusion in school libraries and classrooms has been challenged by parents. It has achieved the dubious distinction of being one of the most banned picture books in 2021-2022. In some instances, the book has been removed in response to legislation which seeks to ban certain books. For example, in Utah, school officials removed the book even after the original complaint had been withdrawn. A recently passed law in Utah prohibits age-inappropriate “sensitive materials” containing “pornographic or indecent material” in schools. Parents who support the book point out that the book makes no mention of anything of a sexual nature, but rather deals with the topic of civil rights.

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