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Former Cal Poly professor and author faces book bans in Texas and Colorado

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Posted at 5:15 PM, Apr 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-28 22:36:56-04

Dr. Gloria Velasquez's novel "Tommy Stands Alone," the story of a gay teenager, was first banned in Colorado schools over two decades ago. Now it's being censored across Texas, too.

Dr. Velasquez, a former Cal Poly professor, says the book was first published in 1995. Soon after, she was scheduled to speak about it at various schools across the country. A school in Colorado was the first place she experienced outrage about her novel.

"Teachers and parents got very upset and they warned me not to use the word gay," she recalled.

Now, more than 20 years later, she says she recently received a call informing her that "Tommy Stands Alone" had been banned in parts of Texas, too. She says her writing is inspired by her role as a social activist, sharing the stories of marginalized members of society.

"It's a complex issue," Dr. Velasquez said. "One of the things that I always emphasize when I speak is that I am a humanitarian."

A new report from the American Library Association shows that last year, there were attempted bans on over 1,500 books with most of them representing LGBTQ+ themes and written by people of color.

On Friday, writers and activists are set to take part in a book ban caravan and march in Austin, Texas. Some of Dr. Velasquez's books have been donated to the caravan, which will distribute them to nonprofits.