Books Removed, Policies Reworked as Complaints Continue to Spark District Action Across the Country | Censorship Roundup

Districts in South Carolina, Michigan, and Iowa remove books, while Florida requires elementary schools to post all available library materials, books in classrooms, and reading lists in the latest Censorship Roundup.

Stamped removed for at least five years at SC district

The Pickens County (SC) school board voted unanimously to remove Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi from school libraries in the Pickens County School District, according to FOX Carolina. The book had been under review for a month after parents complained that the book manipulated students' thinking, the station reported. District spokesperson Darian Byrd said Stamped was being used in an English classroom as an alternative supplemental resource to express bias and show students how to identify bias. 

The board also voted to remove Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower for “not benefitting students academically,” according to Per district policy, Stamped will come up for review again in five years, while Wallflower will be looked at again in three.

Florida elementary schools must post all library materials

On Wednesday, October 19, the Florida Board of Education voted on changes to the state’s “Parental Rights in Education” law, according to WTSP. One of the changes requires elementary schools to post on the school website all school library resources available to students, including classroom libraries and required reading lists. Titles must be searchable by author and title, according to the board of education. According to the board, this change will eliminate “inappropriate, indoctrinating and pornographic materials in libraries and classrooms.”

According to WTSP, the state board also discussed the possibility of teachers losing their jobs or licenses if found ‘intentionally’ providing classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Gender Queer moved to counselor’s office at MI high school

In a 4-3 vote, the Spring Lake (MI) Public Schools board decided to remove Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe from the high school library, according to Wood TV. The book will now be available through the school’s counselor, social worker, or psychologist—with parental consent. A district materials review committee had recommended it remain available.

According to the story, the parent who filed the complaint appealed the review committee’s decision to the board saying, “My request to remove the book is due to the mature sexual content of the graphic novel and its images of nude individuals engaged in sexual acts.”

Board member Chris Beck proposed the compromise because he “feared the ban would lead to a ‘slippery slope’ of book banning, but he remained concerned about the ‘visual graphics’ in the book.”

Dearborn, MI, schools set new guidelines to determine age-appropriateness

Dearborn (MI) Public Schools district administrators released new guidelines for how books will be evaluated for age-appropriateness related to sexual content and violence, according to CBS News Detroit. This update includes a mandate for district media specialists to remove any books no longer used by students, out of date, or not age-appropriate.

The guidelines state that age-appropriateness will be determined by referring to recommendations from at least two of the following professional resources: School Library Journal, Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, Common Sense Media, and NoveList. There will be a district-wide discussion among the media specialists if professional reviews recommend different age groups. The district has also created an opt-out form for parents who want to limit what titles their children can access.

The new guidelines were released after the board’s October 10 meeting was suspended and rescheduled due to protestors interrupting board members and ignoring police officers’ efforts to retain order, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Iowa district removes three books

The Carroll Community (IA) School District school board has removed three books from library shelves while they are being reviewed by staff members. The board is also considering changes to the reconsideration policy for book challenges after a parent complained about the books at an August board meeting, according to the Carroll Times Herald. No official complaint was filed. The three books are Sold by Patricia McCormick, Tricks by Ellen Hopkins, and Red Hood by Elana Arnold.

The parent argued not only for the removal of the books, but also for the district to create new criteria for evaluating “questionable” books. School board member Duane Horsely supported the removal of all three books, along with requiring parental permission for students to check out books labeled “questionable.” 

27 books returned in PA district

Pleasant Valley (PA) School District superintendent James Konrad has returned 27 books to school library shelves. The books had been pulled in response to complaints from a group of parents who were using a booklist from Moms for Liberty, according to the Times News.  The books were placed behind the circulation desk and could still be checked out during the review process.

Parents who attended the September school board meeting pointed out that removing the books from shelves violated the district’s reconsideration policy. Konrad said the district is creating an opt-out form for parents to list books they do not want their children to access.

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