The Bible and a graphic novel adaptation of Anne Frank’s diary are among the books that have been removed from library shelves in a Texas school district days before students return to class. Many of the 41 banned books focus on LGBTQ and Black characters, according to The Dallas Morning News.
All the books had previously been challenged and later approved to remain on library and classroom shelves by the district’s Book Challenge Committee. But according to a spokesperson, Keller Independent School District trustees subsequently approved a new policy requiring all challenged books to be reconsidered.
On Tuesday – the day before classes started – Keller schools curriculum director Jennifer Price instructed principals to remove the challenged books.
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“By the end of today, I need all books pulled from the library and classrooms,” she wrote in an email. “More information will be sent regarding action for these books. … Once this has been completed, please email me a confirmation. We need to ensure this action is taken by the end of today.”
The list included “The Bible (All Versions),” Anne Frank’s Diary (The Graphic Adaptation), Fun Home: A Family Tragicomedy by Alison Bechdel, and Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye.
In another email, associate superintendent John Allison explained that “Books that meet the new guidelines will be returned to the libraries as soon as it is confirmed they comply with the new policy. We hope to be able to expedite the process and return eligible books into circulation as soon as possible.”
As has been the case in so many school districts in Texas and across the country recently, Keller Independent School District has seen a wave of complaints about inappropriate books. Last year, the Texas Education Agency opened an investigation into the district due to claims that sexually explicit books were available to children in school libraries.
Among the many challenged LGBTQ books that were previously approved by the committee are I Am Jazz and All Boys Aren’t Blue. These and other books that will now be removed from schools are also on a list of books circulated by Texas Rep. Matt Krause (R) last year. According to The Dallas Morning News, 97 of the first 100 titles on Krause’s list were written by women, people of color, or LGBTQ authors.
In a statement, PEN America director of free expression Jonathan Friedman said that “the sweeping attempt to remove these titles from classrooms and libraries on the eve of a new school year is an appalling affront to students’ First Amendment rights. It is virtually impossible to run a school or a library that purges books in response to any complaint from any corner.”