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Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Texas school district pulls the Bible, The Bluest Eye and other books from library | US education | The Guardian

Texas school district pulls the Bible, The Bluest Eye and other books from library

"School board in Dallas-Fort Worth area requires reviewing books facing challenges from parents

Toni Morrison close up
Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye is among the books facing challenges. Photograph: Guillermo Arias/AP

A Texas school district is scrambling to remove books from its library shelves ahead of the fall semester, after they were challenged by parents and community members. Among the books removed are a graphic novel adaptation of Anne Frank’s diary, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, and the Bible.

It’s not clear why more than 40 books were challenged.

The move came after the board of the Keller independent school district, in Dallas-Forth Worth’s Tarrant county, set a new policy that called for reviewing books. Three members whose campaigns were financed by the conservative Patriot Mobile Action Pac were elected to Keller’s school board this year.

In a statement, Keller ISD’s superintendent, Dr Rick Westfall, said the review process was continuing: “We anticipate that books like the Bible, Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation, and other titles will be on shelves very soon. (Please note that more than 50 copies of the Diary of Anne Frank have remained in circulation; only the graphic novel edition was previously challenged, and is, thus, under review again.)”

Westfall underscored that this was not an outright book ban and said that if the challenged books passed the new standards, “the books will be promptly returned to shelves”.

But the removal of Anne Frank’s diary caused concern among local Jewish groups, according to the Washington Post. In a joint statement, the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth & Tarrant County and the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas and its Jewish Community Relations Council asked the school district “to put the book back on the shelf”.

“It is imperative that we teach our children about the Holocaust in age-appropriate ways, as outlined in Texas’ state standards for Holocaust education,” the statement said. “At a time of rising antisemitism, we must be particularly vigilant so that nothing like the Holocaust can ever happen again.”

The removal of books from public schools is a trend in the US almost always led by conservative politicians and lawmakers.

A formal assessment from 1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022 conducted by Pen America, the US non-profit organization supporting freedom of expression, showed 86 school districts in 26 states had banned books, many of which contained themes of sexuality and race. The assessment found Texas leading the trend.

The organization defines a book ban as “any action taken against a book based on its content and as a result of parent or community challenges, administrative decisions, or in response to direct or threatened action by lawmakers or other governmental officials, that leads to a previously accessible book being either completely removed from availability to students, or where access to a book is restricted or diminished”.

Texas school district pulls the Bible, The Bluest Eye and other books from library | US education | The Guardian

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