It may seem hard to imagine a children’s book as one of the most-challenged books by schools and libraries for an entire decade. But if you knew the book was about a little girl named Heather, who had two lesbians as mothers, and then recall the tumultuous '90s, when AIDS panic was everywhere and the LGBT community was fighting one of its most difficult battles for equality, it becomes a lot easier to fathom.
“Heather’s favorite number is two. She has two arms, two legs, and two pets. And she also has two mommies.” That’s how one of the most infamous books of the decade, Heather Has Two Mommies, begins. It placed ninth at the end of the decade, beating out The Catcher in the Rye, The Giver, and Sex, by Madonna.
Author Lesléa Newman was the first person to portray a pair of lesbian mothers in a positive way, which didn’t sit well with many people at the time. In a release, Newman said:
“I never dreamed that a book I wrote that came from such humble beginnings would be noticed, let alone banned, burned, defecated upon, read into the Congressional Record, written up in the New York Times, the New Yorker, and Newsweek, parodied by Jon Stewart and many others, and finally republished by a well-established and respected children’s book press.”
After a decade of banning attempts all over the country, attempts to pass state and local constitutional amendments to remove the book and equate homosexuality to the likes of bestiality, sadism, and masochism, the book is an included title in the Anti-Defamation League’s Hate Hurts: How Children Learn and Unlearn Prejudice. A special 20th-anniversary edition was published in 2009, and now, the new 25th anniversary edition is available.