Book battleground: the growing movement to remove certain books from school libraries

With+the+year+coming+to+a+close%2C+for+those+who+did+not+return+their+library+books%2C+lost+or+damaged+books%2C+may+face+possibly+fines+from+the+library.

Maya Silberman

With the year coming to a close, for those who did not return their library books, lost or damaged books, may face possibly fines from the library.

All across the United States, American schools are seeing a rise in efforts by officials and lawmakers to remove books from school libraries.

In Tennessee, the McMinn County Board of Education voted to ban the award-winning graphic novel Maus because of inappropriate profanity and nudity.  

In Florida, books like Lawn Boy and All Boys Aren’t Blue that discuss themes regarding personal discovery are being removed from Orange County school libraries.   

In Oklahoma, the State Senate filed two bills that prohibits school libraries from keeping books that discuss topics regarding sexual activity or gender identity. 

In Texas, Representative Matt Krause launched an investigation into schools statewide for any books that might “make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex.”

We cannot unread this type of content. I would like to protect my kids’ hearts and minds from this,”

— A Katy ISD Mom

Krause sent a letter to the Texas Education Agency and school districts around the state, asking each administrator to confirm if they hold any of the 850 books on his compiled list. Many of the books in question discuss issues regarding racism, sexualtiy, and abortion, which have been controversial topics in the past several years.    

However, lawmakers are not the only people calling for the removal of library books, as parents and community members are too. According to NBC News, “100 school districts in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin regions revealed 75 formal requests by parents or community members to ban books from libraries during the first four months of this school year.”  

Many parents are vocalizing this desire to remove certain books from shelves to protect their children from explicit and controversial content. 

“We cannot unread this type of content,” a Katy ISD mom said. “I would like to protect my kids’ hearts and minds from this.” 

However, Frisco ISD Library Coordinator Amanda Butler believes the removal of books may limit students from future success.   

“Libraries represent informational freedom and values that contribute to learning- they are invaluable to students and staff,” Butler said via email. “We value students’ right to access information that meets their needs as that is the purpose of creating humans who are future ready learners. Any kind of censorship is an invasion of that process.” 

The drive among some lawmakers and parents to remove books regarding race and sex could hinders students’ ability to be more open-minded and understanding according to junior Riya Khosla.

“I feel this decision is an attempt to keep students living in a world that is framed by discontinued and traditional beliefs rather than the current state of society,” Khosla said. “These books have been written for this age group, and to deny students a chance to learn more about sensitive topics is not a positive approach, for it can only lead to more stigmatization and less openness in the future.” 

I feel this decision is an attempt to keep students living in a world that is framed by discontinued and traditional beliefs rather than the current state of society,”

— junior Riya Khosla

With less exposure to materials that provide information over topics like racism and sexuality, students may have conflicting feelings about themselves or even society.  

“Students like myself who have already been exposed to the concepts unfolded in novels such as these will begin to see the world as one that has not truly allowed for diversity.” Khosla said. “For some it will result in a conflict of morals and values, and for others I feel it may lead to enragement over a false promise that has been kept a lie by those who control the media.”

Battling book investigations and bans, some students and librarians alike have been responding in various ways with some Texas students forming book clubs to read what adults want censored.

“I think it is a very productive way to retaliate against the ban,” Khosla said. “Through the use of positive concepts like book clubs and spreading awareness on social media platforms, it allows many to strengthen together against this one cause.”