Thursday, December 1, 2022

Banned Books Week, Sept. 18-24, 2022

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Banned Books Week across the US has been running since Saturday, September 18, so what better time could there be to speak out during the public comment portion of a regular state school board meeting in Lansing, Michigan, about banning books that contain sexually explicit material?

Even though the state school board has absolutely no authority to ban books or to tell schools what books their students should or shouldn’t be allowed to read, parents who want certain books out of reach of their children have been clogging school board meetings in the state for several months now, Chalkbeat Detroit reports.

“Local superintendents and local school boards look up to the state board to see what their recommendations are, so if the state Board of Education can just affirm what we feel,” that would be helpful, the news site quoted Bree Moeggenberg, a mother of three and chair of the Isabella County chapter of Moms for Liberty, a conservative nonprofit that has fought school mask mandates and lessons about LGBT rights and critical race theory, as saying.

The Children’s Cooperative Book Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, has complied a list of resources about banned books as well as a host of responses from professional organizations about the topic. They’re responding to recent attacks against materials in libraries and classrooms.

The theme of this year’s Banned Books Week event is “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.” The national organization reports that the 10 most challenged books in 2021 were

  1. Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
  2. Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison
  3. All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
  4. Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez
  5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  6. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  7. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
  8. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  9. This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson
  10. Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin

Michigan isn’t the only place where banned books are a point of discussion. Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, a Republican, recently signed into law the “Stop WOKE Act,” which stands for “Stop Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees Act.” The law effectively cuts off discussions of racism in the state’s public schools, as well as any discussions about issues related to gender identity or sexual orientation.

DeAnna Allen, an English teacher at Olympic Heights High School in Boca Raton, told Lauren Albano for the school’s student newspaper that she doesn’t have any objections to preventing inappropriate discussions of sexually explicit material in the classroom. But at the same time, she doesn’t feel right about cutting conversations about important subjects short.

“Do I believe teachers should be inappropriately talking about sex, race, gender, etc.? No, I don’t,” she was quoted as saying. “However, they should be allowed to teach about the mistakes made in the past to make sure the current generation understands and accepts differences—not ignore them.”

UPDATE Sept. 27: In an extensive, in-depth report Wednesday, Kathy Georgieva at Glenbard South High School in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, explains the history and current happenings around book banning:

Although book banning is typically seen as a harmful act, it is still an ongoing issue that has deep roots in the history of censorship. As the frequently-banned author, Oscar Wilde once proclaimed, “The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame.”
Paul Katulahttps://news.schoolsdo.org
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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