Officials at a school district near Fort Worth, Texas, have ordered school staff and librarians to temporarily remove books that have been challenged through the district’s official complaint process over the past school year, including the Bible and an illustrated adaptation of Anne Frank’s diary.
The Keller Independent School District Board of Trustees passed policies last week that set new standards for how books and other learning materials are chosen for schools, including subjecting books to a 30-day public review. days before they are purchased by libraries and removing the disputed material from the shelves. while they are being examined.
“At this time Keller ISD administration is asking our campus staff and librarians to review books contested last year to determine if they meet the requirements of the new policy,” the school district said in A declaration after an email sent to directors regarding the policy was obtained by the Texas Tribune newspaper.
“All of the books included in Tuesday’s email have been included on Keller ISD’s Book Challenge list within the past year. Books that meet the new guidelines will be returned to libraries as soon as it is confirmed that they comply with the new policy,” the statement read.
The Keller School District allows parents, employees, and residents of the district to file formal objections or challenges to books and instructional materials used in schools. A committee then examines whether the material is suitable for teaching and decides whether the material will remain in the schools, the neighborhood website said.
The group may also decide to limit the use of the material to particular grade levels or to students who obtain parental permission.
Among the books that have been challenged over the past year are some that explore LGBTQ experiences, such as George M. Johnson’s “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” which the committee decided to keep in high schools, and ” Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe, which has been removed from campuses in the district, according to the neighborhood website. Toni Morrison’s novel “The Bluest Eye” was also challenged and upheld by the committee.
The new library and educational materials policies were unanimously approved by the board on August 8th. The decision came as discussions about books and school library programs have become key issues across the country.
“We are very pleased that our new, unawakened school board has made these changes,” a speaker said during the public comment portion of the August 8 Keller school board meeting. “This is just the beginning, I hope.”
an april PEN America analysisa literature and free speech advocacy organization, found that 1,586 books were banned in 86 school districts in 26 states from July 31, 2021 to March 31, 2022. Texas led the nation with the most large number of book bans at 713, according to the analysis, followed by Pennsylvania and Florida.
“The sweeping attempt to remove these titles from classrooms and libraries on the eve of a new school year is an appalling affront to students’ First Amendment rights. It is virtually impossible to run a school or library that purges books in response to a complaint from any corner,” Jonathan Friedman, director of free expression and education programs at PEN America, said in a press release.
“The bigger picture reflects trends across the country toward censorship of education, a recipe for harmless schools and lowest common denominator education. This Keller ISD directive should be repealed immediately,” Friedman said.
Wednesday is the first day back to school for the district.