The Keller Independent School District near Dallas, Texas, passed a new rule in November: Banned from its libraries books that include the concept of gender fluidity,
The change was prompted by three new school board members elected in May with the backing of Patriot Mobile, a self-proclaimed Christian cell phone provider. Through its political action committee, Patriot Mobile supported Texas school board candidates with conservative views on race, gender and sexuality – including what books children could access in school.
More recently, the issue has been turbocharged by fast-growing and increasingly influential conservative groups, which often describe themselves as champions of parental rights.
,It’s Not About Banning Books, It’s About Protecting The Innocence Of Our ChildrenSaid Keith Flaw, founder of the Florida Citizens Alliance, a conservative group focused on education and “letting the parent decide what a child gets instead of indoctrinating our children into government schools.”
The materials to which groups object are often described as sensitive, inappropriate or pornographic. In practice, the most frequently attacked books are those written by or about Black or LGBTQ people, according to the American Library Association.
for august,At least 20 books removed from Keller schoolsIncluding Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye”, Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”, and several young adult novels featuring LGBTQ characters.
Groups opposing book bans say it is difficult to formulate a national response, as policies are determined locally. But some persevere. Texas librarians formed Freedom Fighters, an organization that provides guidance on how to handle book challenges. Parents protesting the book ban in Florida formed the Freedom to Read Project.
“We’re trying to document the censorship movement,” said Stefana Farrell, founder of Freedom to Read. “They don’t want to use the word ‘sanctions’.” Instead they remove, move, restrict all these other words which are not ‘ban’. But it’s a restriction.”
Utah Parents United, formed to fight COVID restrictions in 2020, has expanded its agenda to shape school curriculum and library collections.
The growth of conservative groups has been fueled by a rise in “parents’ rights” organizations during the pandemic. Brooke Stephens, the group’s director of curriculum, made presentations to Utah legislators on a bill banning “sensitive material” in schools, sharing “All Boys Are Not Blue” as an example from the books. “, a memoir about being black and queer, which includes details of a sexual assault, and “Gender Queer”, a memoir about being non-binary that includes some explicit sexual scenes.
After passing the law, The number of book challenges started increasing, Mark Peterson, a spokesman for the Utah Department of Education, said most of the complaints are coming from a small number of people. In one school district, 22 books were recalled, including “All Boys Are Not Blue” and “Gender Queer”.