Banning books in schools (1 Viewer)

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    Optimus Prime

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    Excellent article I thought deserved its own thread
    =========================

    On the surface, it would appear that book censors and censored authors like myself can agree on one thing: Books are powerful.

    Particularly books for children and teens.

    Why else would people like me spend so much time and energy writing them?

    Why else would censors spend so much time and energy trying to keep them out of kids’ hands?

    In a country where the average adult is reading fewer and fewer books, it’s a surprise to find Americans arguing so much about them.

    In this election year, parents and politicians — so many politicians — are jumping into the fray to say how powerful books can be.

    Granted, politicians often make what I do sound like witchcraft, but I take this as a compliment.

    I’ll admit, one of my first thoughts about the current wildfire of attempted censorship was: How quaint.

    Conservatives seemed to be dusting off their playbook from 1958, when the only way our stories could get to kids was through schools and libraries.

    While both are still crucial sanctuaries for readers, they’re hardly the only options. Plenty of booksellers supply titles that are taken off school shelves.

    And words can be very widely shared free of charge on social media and the rest of the internet. If you take my book off a shelf, you keep it away from that shelf, but you hardly keep it away from readers.

    As censorship wars have raged in so many communities, damaging the lives of countless teachers, librarians, parents and children, it’s begun to feel less and less quaint.

    This is not your father’s book censorship…..

    Here’s something I never thought I’d be nostalgic for: sincere censors. When my first novel, “Boy Meets Boy,” was published in 2003, it was immediately the subject of many challenges, some of which kept the book from ever getting on a shelf in the first place.

    At the time, a challenge usually meant one parent trying to get a book pulled from a school or a library, going through a formal process.

    I often reminded myself to try to find some sympathy for these parents; yes, they were wrong, and their desire to control what other people in the community got to read was wrong — but more often than not, the challenge was coming from fear of a changing world, a genuine (if incorrect) belief that being gay would lead kids straight to ruination and hell, and/or the misbegotten notion that if all the books that challenged the (homophobic, racist) status quo went away, then the status quo would remain intact.

    It was, in some ways, as personal to them as it was to those of us on the other side of the challenge.

    And nine times out of 10, the book would remain on the shelf.

    It’s not like that now. What I’ve come to believe, as I’ve talked to authors and librarians and teachers, is that attacks are less and less about the actual books.

    We’re being used as targets in a much larger proxy war.

    The goal of that war isn’t just to curtail intellectual freedom but to eviscerate the public education system in this country.

    Censors are scorching the earth, without care for how many kids get burned.

    Racism and homophobia are still very much present, but it’s also a power grab, a money grab. The goal for many is a for-profit, more authoritarian and much less diverse culture, one in which truth is whatever you’re told it is, your identity is determined by its acceptability and the past is a lie that the future is forced to emulate.

    The politicians who holler and post and draw up their lists of “harmful” books aren’t actually scared of our books.

    They are using our books to scare people.

     
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    ORLANDO, Fla. — A total of 673 books, from classics to bestsellers, have been removed from Orange County classrooms this year for fear they violate new state rules that ban making “sexual conduct” available to public school students.

    The list of rejected books, which the district began compiling during the summer, will get another review from Orange County Public Schools staff, so some could eventually be put back on shelves. But for now, teachers who had them in their classrooms have been told to take them home or put them away so students cannot access them.

    The books run the gamut, from John Milton’s 17th-century epic poem “Paradise Lost” to John Grisham’s 1991 New York Times bestseller “The Firm.” John Steinbeck’s “East of Eden” and John Irving’s “The World According to Garp” made the list, too.

    The list also includes popular novels by Stephen King, Sue Monk Kidd and Jodi Picoult, classics like “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” “Jude the Obscure,” and “Madame Bovary,” and award-winning books like “A Thousand Acres,” “Beloved,” and “Love in the Time of Cholera.”

    The rejected books include ones teachers say were once regularly taught in high school classes, such as “The Color Purple,” “Catch-22,” and “Brave New World.

    The list contains books found in teachers’ classroom collections, not in school libraries. Many likely were not part of required instruction but were available to students for independent reading. The district said it could not yet provide a full count of how many books have been removed from school libraries this year.

    The books pulled from classrooms represent “over censorship” by media specialists operating under “great fear” because of the new state laws that hold them responsible for every item on a shelf, said Karen Castor Dentel, an Orange County School Board member as the board discussed the list at its Dec. 12 meeting.

    “It’s creating this culture of fear within our media specialists and even teachers who just want to have a library in their classrooms, so kids have access,” said Castor Dentel, a former OCPS elementary school teacher.

    Parents, she said, can restrict what their own children read, making it hard to justify pulling so many books from classrooms. “They’re in a pile of we’ll-get-to-it-later and in the meantime, no one can read those books.”

    The harm of so much censorship far outweighs the benefits of finding “a book or two that is offensive,” Castor Dentel added. “Look at all the chaos that has been created. It’s not worth it.”...........

     
    A concise list of some of the books removed from Orange County school libraries.

     
    Almost half of books challenged at school are returned to shelves, but titles with LGBTQ characters, themes and stories are most likely to be banned, according to a Washington Post analysis of nearly 900 book objections nationwide.


    School officials sent 49 percent of challenged titles back to shelves, The Post found, a discovery some interviewed for this story hailed as proof the national alarm over book challenges has been overblown — although librarians warned of a severe burden on employees forced to spend months defending titles.

    The next most-common outcome, in 17 percent of challenges, was for a book to be placed under some form of restriction. Libraries might require parental permission or limit the youngest students from checking out a given title.


    And school officials permanently removed 16 percent of challenged books, making that the third-most-common outcome. In the remaining cases, the books were either still under review as of late 2023, were never reviewed by the district or were unavailable before the challenge.

    The Post requested the results of all book challenges filed in the 2021-2022 school year from more than 100 school districts, which The Post had previously identified as fielding formal objections during that time.

    In total, officials in those districts shared the outcomes of 872 challenges to 444 books across 29 states.
The Post analyzed the types of books challenged to determine what titles were most likely to be removed, restricted or retained.

    Books about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer lives were 30 percent more likely to be yanked, The Post found, compared with all targeted books.

    By contrast, books by and about people of color, or those about race and racism, were 20 percent more likely to be kept available compared with all targeted books……

     
    On stage in front of hundreds of book lovers who packed the Kenmore Middle School auditorium, Diane Kresh spread the black T-shirt above her head to read the shirt’s message: “READ WHATEVER YOU WANT, WHENEVER, HOWEVER.”

    The Arlington County library director presented the shirt to Art Spiegelman, author of “Maus.” It was a token of gratitude for Spiegelman after he spoke in late September about his work as an author and what drove him to tell his family’s Holocaust tale in the form of a graphic novel.

    Spiegelman’s work had been targeted as controversial in some areas and deemed banned in those jurisdictions. His invitation to speak in Arlington represented one of a series of salvos fired in a far larger campaign aimed at those across the country who push to pull books from the shelves of public and school libraries.

    It’s a war that Kresh did not ignite but willingly enlisted in with the power of the library system behind her.

    “It’s a crusade,” Kresh said in a recent interview.

    Library directors typically aren’t on the front lines of testy national debates, but with the backing of the county board, and a solid-blue constituency, Kresh has given a full-throated voice to fight against book bans.

    The Arlington native is using a voice honed over decades in professional and personal pursuits that led her through a 30-plus year career at the Library of Congress and through two marriages to men before she finally acknowledged she is gay.

    Kresh has also been a performer for most of her life, on stage and in choirs, from the stages of Yorktown High School and later at Catholic University, where she majored in theater.

    But now at age 69, one of her final acts as a professional is spending political capital to fight for access to words and wisdom for institutions that she believes are at the heart of a thriving democracy — the public library system.

    After handing the T-shirt to Spiegelman two months ago, Kresh quipped to the crowd that perhaps next year she should wrap all the county libraries in police crime-scene tape.

    “There is something to offend and upset everyone, and if there isn’t we’re not doing our job,” Kresh said..............

     
    DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A federal judge on Friday temporarily blocked key parts of an Iowa law that banssome books from school libraries and forbids teachers from raising LGBTQ+ issues.

    Judge Stephen Locher’s preliminary injunction halts enforcement of the law, which was set to take effect Jan. 1 but already had resulted in the removal of hundreds of books from Iowa schools.

    The law, which the Republican-led Legislature and GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds approved early in 2023, bans books depicting sex acts from school libraries and classrooms and forbids teachers from raising gender identity and sexual orientation issues with students through the sixth grade. Locher blocked enforcement of those two provisions.

    The judge said the ban on books is “incredibly broad” and has resulted in the removal of history volumes, classics, award-winning novels and “even books designed to help students avoid being victimized by sexual assault.” He said that part of the law is unlikely to satisfy the constitution’s requirements for free speech.……

     
    Was there? I read that years ago, and I didn’t even remember that.

    Yes, a pro football former TE.....I believe John Lithgow played that character (quite brilliantly) in the movie....
     
    I know there are a lot of sides to the book banning argument, but the first amendment argument is often used as a reason that book bans are illegal. However, in browsing through ViewExchange, there seems to be a viewpoint that book banning does not violate the first amendment.

    Not to say that people who feel this way also support book bans, but it is an interesting statistic nevertheless.

    https://www.viewexchange.com/surl/yndxy
     
    I know there are a lot of sides to the book banning argument, but the first amendment argument is often used as a reason that book bans are illegal. However, in browsing through ViewExchange, there seems to be a viewpoint that book banning does not violate the first amendment.

    Not to say that people who feel this way also support book bans, but it is an interesting statistic nevertheless.

    https://www.viewexchange.com/surl/yndxy
    I'd say it depends of where the books are. You don't want children exposed to adult themes involving sex, etc, nor books on how to make bombs in prison libraries.
     
    I'd say it depends of where the books are. You don't want children exposed to adult themes involving sex, etc, nor books on how to make bombs in prison libraries.
    Gonna keep the Bible away from kids?
     
    I'd say it depends of where the books are. You don't want children exposed to adult themes involving sex, etc, nor books on how to make bombs in prison libraries.
    Do you want them exposed to Rosa Parks or books thst just have gay characters in them?
     

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