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Sound Bites: Dozens of books challenged in CT and NY libraries

A stack of commonly banned books.
Ted Shaffrey
A stack of commonly banned books.

Good morning. Thousands of books were challenged in school and public libraries in 2023, according to the latest book censorship report from the American Library Association.

More than 110 titles in Connecticut and almost 80 titles in New York were challenged last year. Besides Connecticut, only 16 other states saw attempts to censor more than 100 titles. Nearly half of the books challenged were either written by or featured LGBTQ+ individuals or Black, Indigenous and other people of color. 

Connecticut saw its first effective book ban in Goshen during the summer of 2023 with the autobiographical graphic novel, “Gender Queer.” 

Here’s a bite-sized look at what else we are hearing: 

Long Island residents will head to the polls Tuesday to vote for mayors, trustees and justices. Several contested races are held in multiple municipalities, including Head of the Harbor, East Williston, Great Neck Estates, Northport and Valley Stream. Voting is held from 12 to 9 p.m.

Connecticut schools have generated over $360,000 in student lunch debt this school year. Officials blamed the state for no longer providing school districts with free lunch for all students. According to the School Nutrition Association of Connecticut, each student has generated an average of $3.85 in lunch debt across 50 school districts.

Connecticut inmates will be allowed to participate in group religious activities. The state Department of Correction reached an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department on Friday to expand inmates’ access to group worship. Under new programs, inmates can facilitate collective religious activities with supervision from chaplains and prisons. Previously, only volunteer religious officials could conduct group worship in prisons.

New York’s Office of Cannabis Management is under review. Gov. Kathy Hochul ordered an assessment of the office in response to its slow license approval process. It received 7,000 applications for dispensary licenses last fall, but only 109 licenses have been awarded this year. The assessment will identify areas for improvement and implement a strategic plan for the long-term success of the state’s cannabis industry.

Connecticut Board of Education members may soon be paid for their work. The state Government Administration and Elections Committee advanced a bill that would allow municipal and school board members to receive compensation. Previously, members were barred from receiving profit. Supporters hope the bill will boost interest in participating in Boards of Education statewide.

New London’s Lyman Allyn Art Museum will develop a new urban art park. This is thanks to a new $1.6 million Community Investment Fund awarded to the museum last week. The 12-acre park will feature a waterfall and filtration pond, a walkway, and a pollinator meadow, along with a new parking area and bus stop. Construction on the park will begin in late spring and is expected to be complete by summer 2025.

The New York Yankees will immortalize actor Jason Alexander in bobblehead form for his role as George Costanza on Seinfeld. Costanza worked as a travel secretary for the baseball team during the nine-season-long sitcom. A lucky 18,000 guests can purchase their very own George Costanza bobblehead at Yankee Stadium on July 5 for Seinfeld Night.

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Eric Warner is a news fellow at WSHU.