All pulled books have a 30-day review process to decide if they are ‘appropriate’
The Keller Independent School District Board of Trustees near Fort Worth, Texas, told its school staff and librarians to temporarily remove 41 books, including the Bible and an illustrated adaptation of Anne Frank’s diary, until they go through the district’s formal complaint process from the 2021-2022 school year.
As part of the new standards set to determine which educational materials will be allowed at schools, books are put up for public review for 30 days before they can be purchased by school libraries and, if deemed inappropriate, removed altogether.
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“Right now, Keller ISD’s administration is asking our campus staff and librarians to review books that were challenged last year to determine if they meet the requirements of the new policy,” the school district said in a statement 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 over the past year. Books that meet the new guidelines will be returned to the libraries as soon as it is confirmed they comply with the new policy.”
The school district enables parents, employees, and district residents to file formal challenges to any books or instructional materials their children may read. A committee then decides if they are “educationally suitable” or “pervasively vulgar,” in which case they don’t make it to bookshelves.
Just got word that today, the day Before school starts, @KellerISD has informed teachers & librarians to remove all previously challenged books from school shelves. Even the books that passed the challenge committees. The Diary of Anne Frank, Graphic Nov. is on this list. 🧵/1 pic.twitter.com/ggFilJA30o— Laney Hawes (@LaneyHawes) August 16, 2022
Books that were challenged in the past year include All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson, an LBGTQ+ book that the committee decided to keep in high schools, and Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe, which was removed from the district. Toni Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye was also challenged and kept by the committee.
An April analysis from PEN America, a literary advocacy organization, found 1,586 books were banned in 86 school districts across 26 states from July 2021 to March 2022. Texas, unsurprisingly, was at the top of the list with 713 banned books. This latest round of book removals follows May’s school board elections, which included debates over how America’s history of racism should be taught in Texas public schools.
“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,” said Jonathan Friedman, PEN America director of free expression and education programs. “It is virtually impossible to run a school or a library that purges books in response to any complaint from any corner.”