Texas School Bans the Bible
Category: News & PoliticsVia: ender • one month ago • 50 comments
By: Matthew Gault
A Texas school district has pulled all versions of the Bible and the graphic novel version of Anne Frank’s Diary from its library shelves ahead of the start of the school year. The ban happened in Keller, Texas—a suburb in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex with a population just under 40,000.
On August 16, the day before school started, Jennifer Price, Keller ISD’s executive director of curriculum and instruction sent an email to the school district’s principals: “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,” Price said. “Once this has been completed, please email me a confirmation. We need to ensure this action is taken by the end of the day. I apologize for the late request.”
The list of currently challenged works is 41 books long and includes “The Bible (All Versions),” Anne Frank’s Diary (The Graphic Adaptation), So You’re Being Publicly Shamed , several LGBT touchstones like Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic , and classics like Toni Morisson’s The Bluest Eye .
Later that day, Keller ISD released a statement on its website . “Keller ISD’s Board of Trustees approved policies EFA (Local) and EFB (Local) at its August 8, 2022, Special Meeting. These policies relate to the acquisition and review of instructional materials and library books. 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 said. “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.”
Essentially, in this case, books were challenged, then reviewed in a closed-door committee vetting process. The books survived that review, but then were further challenged; the district decided to pull all books on the challenged list for the time being.
Bryce Nienman, Keller ISD’s spokesman, told the Dallas Morning News that Keller’s school trustees recently approved a new policy that would reconsider every book that had already survived a ban. The new policy came after Texas state officials launched an official investigation into Keller ISD over sexually explicit books in its library. Parents and teachers met in secret for months, reviewing the books and making decisions about what could stay and what could go. Participants had to sign confidentiality agreements .
Laney Hawes, a Keller ISD parent who sounded the alarm about the book ban on Twitter, talked about her experience in some of these meetings. “These books went through the official district established challenge committee process,” she said. “But because they all passed the committee process, our extreme Christian nationalist school board decided the process was ‘rigged.’. Sound familiar? I served on the committee for The Diary of Anne Frank Graphic Novel. The person who challenged the book didn’t even show up to defend their position. But now the book is pulled.”
Much of the current wave of book banning in the United States is being fueled by groups like Moms For Liberty that are explicitly Conservative and Christian, so it’s ironic that the district has included The Bible in its list of banned titles. It’s a book for which there is at least a plausible argument for banning, considering the Constitutionally enshrined, but poorly enforced, separation of church and state.
Book bannings in schools and libraries have become increasingly common in America. The targets are typically books that deal with LGBTQ themes , books that deal with sex in any way shape or form, and books about the Holocaust. Librarians and administrators have also reported receiving threats and discrimination after setting up displays featuring LGBTQ books, and right-wing extremist groups have disrupted multiple Pride-themed events in libraries across the US.
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