As kids return to school in certain states, their libraries might have fewer titles to choose from. This is due to an ongoing push by conservative leaders who have deemed certain books unsuitable for school children. Texas currently has the most significant number of book bans, ranking at 713 titles.
The Dallas News reports that Keller Independent School District has temporarily removed 41 books that were challenged the previous year, including The Bible, “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison, and a novel adaptation of Anne Frank’s “The Diary of Young Girl.”
The Keller school district gives parents, district residents, and employees the power to challenge the validity of any books and instructional materials used in its classrooms. A new process was just approved last week, putting books up for 30 days of public review before they are purchased by libraries, and removing challenged materials from shelves while they are being reviewed.
This new process is a result of the Texas Education Agency’s investigation into what was described as “sexually explicit” books in the school library. Three conservative school board members were elected to the district’s seven-member board of trustees. The Texas Tribune states a Christian cellphone company Patriot Mobile raised $500,000 to support the candidates’ campaigns.
So, why would somebody challenge the Bible being in schools? A parent laid out all the reasons why they objected.
At least one person challenged the Bible due to its “sexual content, violence including rape, murder, human sacrifice, misogyny, homophobia, discrimination, and other inappropriate content,” according to documents obtained by The Dallas Morning News. The person who challenged Anne Frank’s Diary (The Graphic Adaptation) wrote to school officials that it should be viewed in the presence of an adult.
The same parent eventually withdrew their challenge, according to the district’s website. Other books that were challenged include All Boys Aren’t Blue by George Johnson, which is about what it’s like growing up as a queer Black man, and Ashley Hope Pérez’s Out of Darkness, a love story between a Mexican American girl and an African American boy leading up to the 1937 New London school explosion.
The current challenges will be revisited. Laney Hawes, who served on the Keller ISD book committee, believes the removal of these books is a result of conservative group funding.
“I feel bad for students who, many of them, the only opportunity they’re going to have to learn about really, really difficult topics is in books,” Hawes said. “I feel bad for the most marginalized kids in our school district, the LGBTQ+ kids, and also a lot of the kids of color. I’m sad. I’m disheartened, and I’m frustrated, and I’m angry.”