Dear Commons Community,
The Keller Independent School District (Texas) is pulling all books from library shelves and classrooms that were challenged by parents, lawmakers and other community members in the last year — including the Bible.
The day before students started back at the Keller, which serves students in the Fort Worth suburbs, Jennifer Price, the executive director of curriculum and instruction, told principals and librarians to remove 41 books while they undergo a review, according to an email obtained by the Texas Tribune.
Some of the books included in the list are all editions of the Bible, a graphic novel adaptation of Anne Frank’s diary, “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison and “Gender Queer: A Memoir,” by Maia Kobabe, the Tribune reported. Kobabe’s book tops the American Library Association’s list for most banned books in 2021. As reported in the Texas Tribune and USA Today.
“Attached is a list of all books that were challenged last year. By the end of today, I need all books pulled from the library and classrooms. Please collect these books and store them in a location. (book room, office, etc.),” Price wrote in the email on Tuesday.
Students returned to class Wednesday after summer break, according to the district’s website.
The decision comes amid an uptick in book bans in schools and libraries across the country. The American Library Association, which tracks book challenges and bans, reported a more than doubling of challenges in 2021 from 2020, with actual numbers likely being much higher.
Parents, politicians, and other community members have been challenging books at higher rates as conservative lawmakers raise concerns about what students are being taught in schools about topics such as race, sexuality, and gender identity.
Some of the books at Keller ISD that received challenges — requests to remove them from libraries and schools — had already been reviewed last school year by a school district committee and were recommended to remain in schools, according to the Tribune.
A new policy approved by the school board earlier this month requires that they be reviewed again, the district told USA TODAY in a statement.
“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 statement reads. “Books that meet the new guidelines will be returned to the libraries as soon as it is confirmed they comply with the new policy.”
According to Board of Trustees President Charles Randklev in a post on Facebook, district officials are concerned about “graphic, gratuitous, sexually-explicit content.”
“Per the new policy, instructional materials previously challenged following the old policy, which was flawed and exposed children to pornographic material… will be re-evaluated,” Randklev said.
According to the district website, some challenged books after initial review were allowed to remain in all classrooms in libraries (Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye,” “Moxie” by Jennifer Mathieu). Some were kept only in high schools (“We Are The Ants” by Shaun David Hutchinson and “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” by Jesse Andrews). One book (“More Happy Than Not” by Adam Silvera) would be removed from curriculum but allowed to remain as individual reading.
Burn the books next!