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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    could have gone in a few threads
    ======================

    In Florida, where the right-wing Moms for Liberty group was born in response to Covid-19 school closures and mask mandates, the first Brevard County School Board meeting of the new year considered whether two bestselling novels – “The Kite Runner” and “Slaughterhouse-Five” – should be banned from schools.

    A lone Moms for Liberty supporter sat by herself at the January 23 meeting, where opponents of the book ban outnumbered her.

    Nearly 20 speakers voiced opposition to removing the novels from school libraries. One compared the book-banning effort to Nazi Germany. Another accused Moms for Liberty of waging war on teachers. No one spoke in favor of the ban. About three hours into the meeting, the board voted quickly to keep the two books on the shelves of high schools.

    “Why are we banning books?” asked Mindy McKenzie, a mom and nurse who is a member of Stop Moms for Liberty, which was formed to counter what it calls a far-right extremist group “pushing for book banning and destroying public education.”

    “Why are we letting Moms for Liberty infiltrate our school system?”

    Moms for Liberty, founded in 2021, expanded its mission to include efforts to ban certain books from schools, outlaw the teaching and discussion of gender and sexuality by teachers and halt the teaching of critical race theory.

    Now the group is at a crossroads.

    “One of their major challenges is the fact that most Americans are actually pretty positive about their own children’s schools,” Jack Schneider, a professor of education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, said via email. “Although their message may have appeal in the abstract, at least to conservative voters, families aren’t clamoring for disruption in their own children’s schools.”

    After effectively channeling conservative anger over cultural issues into action on the ground, from supporting candidates in school board races to spearheading campaigns against teachers, administrators and other political foes, Moms for Liberty’s burgeoning influence in Republican national politics may be faltering, observers say.

    A sex scandal involving the husband of Moms for Liberty co-founder Bridget Ziegler, a Sarasota County school board member, has not helped the group’s cause.


    Ziegler has been on the forefront of the cultural battles GOP Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has waged in the public schools. DeSantis named her to the board now overseeing the Walt Disney Company’s special tax district in central Florida amid his clash with the entertainment giant over a state law that restricted how sexual orientation and gender identity could be taught in the classroom. Ziegler remains on the school board despite calls for her to step down.

    “It seems to me a bit premature, or more than a bit premature, to write it off entirely,” Glenn Altschuler, an American studies professor at Cornell University, told CNN, referring to Moms for Liberty. “Will it have national prominence that resembles the prominence that it had early on in its founding? I think that’s unlikely.”.........

     
    could have gone in a few threads
    ======================

    In Florida, where the right-wing Moms for Liberty group was born in response to Covid-19 school closures and mask mandates, the first Brevard County School Board meeting of the new year considered whether two bestselling novels – “The Kite Runner” and “Slaughterhouse-Five” – should be banned from schools.

    A lone Moms for Liberty supporter sat by herself at the January 23 meeting, where opponents of the book ban outnumbered her.

    Nearly 20 speakers voiced opposition to removing the novels from school libraries. One compared the book-banning effort to Nazi Germany. Another accused Moms for Liberty of waging war on teachers. No one spoke in favor of the ban. About three hours into the meeting, the board voted quickly to keep the two books on the shelves of high schools.

    “Why are we banning books?” asked Mindy McKenzie, a mom and nurse who is a member of Stop Moms for Liberty, which was formed to counter what it calls a far-right extremist group “pushing for book banning and destroying public education.”

    “Why are we letting Moms for Liberty infiltrate our school system?”

    Moms for Liberty, founded in 2021, expanded its mission to include efforts to ban certain books from schools, outlaw the teaching and discussion of gender and sexuality by teachers and halt the teaching of critical race theory.

    Now the group is at a crossroads.

    “One of their major challenges is the fact that most Americans are actually pretty positive about their own children’s schools,” Jack Schneider, a professor of education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, said via email. “Although their message may have appeal in the abstract, at least to conservative voters, families aren’t clamoring for disruption in their own children’s schools.”

    After effectively channeling conservative anger over cultural issues into action on the ground, from supporting candidates in school board races to spearheading campaigns against teachers, administrators and other political foes, Moms for Liberty’s burgeoning influence in Republican national politics may be faltering, observers say.

    A sex scandal involving the husband of Moms for Liberty co-founder Bridget Ziegler, a Sarasota County school board member, has not helped the group’s cause.


    Ziegler has been on the forefront of the cultural battles GOP Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has waged in the public schools. DeSantis named her to the board now overseeing the Walt Disney Company’s special tax district in central Florida amid his clash with the entertainment giant over a state law that restricted how sexual orientation and gender identity could be taught in the classroom. Ziegler remains on the school board despite calls for her to step down.

    “It seems to me a bit premature, or more than a bit premature, to write it off entirely,” Glenn Altschuler, an American studies professor at Cornell University, told CNN, referring to Moms for Liberty. “Will it have national prominence that resembles the prominence that it had early on in its founding? I think that’s unlikely.”.........


    Banning Slaughterhouse Five from schools? Now they're just ripping off Footloose.
     
    Well, the fascists have upped their game. We knew this is what they have wanted to do from the beginning.


    Wow. Another Greene Boebert Gohmert Gosar shows their stupidity.
     
    Well, the fascists have upped their game. We knew this is what they have wanted to do from the beginning.


    She attended what was supposed to be a story hour at a public library in Springfield from what I have read, grabbed some books, made a speech to the attendees about these books and left with them. Later she puts that picture out of her burning the books with some sort of flame thrower. She wasn’t on the agenda as a speaker, she just rolled in and took over the story hour.
     
    One of the most disquieting pieces of legislation hit the Maryland General Assembly last month.

    It’s House Bill 785 — the Freedom to Read Act.

    “A library should not exclude material from its catalogue because of the origin, background or views of a person who created the material,” it says.

    “A library should not prohibit or remove material from its catalogue because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.”

    And the gut punch is about the librarians themselves. They shall not be “dismissed, demoted, suspended, disciplined, reassigned, transferred or otherwise retaliated against,” the bill states.

    This part is urgent.

    “I have had library workers come to me and say, ‘I’m scared to recommend books to young people,’” said Tiffany Sutherland, president of the Maryland Library Association and a librarian in Calvert County. Her co-workers feel under siege and beleaguered.

    Texas and Florida have been the epicenters of America’s recent book-banning movement. But the book challenges, the retaliation against librarians and the chill of educational discourse are also a concern in blue Maryland.

    “This is something you saw on the national news,” said Del. Dana Jones (D-Anne Arundel), who introduced the bill in January. “But it’s happening here, too.”

    A similar federal bill — the Fight Book Bans Act — was introduced in the U.S. House in December. Meanwhile, last year Illinois became the first state to pass a law penalizing libraries that ban books. New Jersey was considering one.

    The bill in Maryland would be a sweeping and pioneering stand against a trend right out of Europe’s totalitarian age or any of the science-fiction books my kids read (when they were still able to get them in the library).

    In the 2022-2023 school year, there were 3,362 instances of books being banned from public school classrooms and libraries, according to Pen America. The organization’s tally includes instances “where students’ access to books in school libraries and classrooms in the United States was restricted or diminished, for either limited or indefinite periods of time.”

    It’s the volume of attacks that is new in our era.

    Sutherland said that in her 14 years as a librarian, she could previously think of only two instances of book challenges.

    “Now, it’s a constant barrage of questioning our collection, questioning our profession, questioning what we’re doing, what our intentions are,” Sutherland said.

    We can thank the Moms for Liberty — a name as oxymoronic as “down escalator” — for helping to fuel this assault on a freedom we all thought was part of life in the United States.

    They have a playbook: finding passages in books that make them clutch their pearls, submitting objections to libraries, then heading to school board meetings.

    There, they read graphic passages, fanning themselves or rolling their eyes. At a Carroll County, Md., school board meeting in the fall, they described garments falling to the ground, “secret sweetness” and rape, apologizing to the audience — which, at these meetings, usually includes the students they’re allegedly protecting.


    The campaign was successful in Carroll County — getting more than 50 books removed, including “Slaughterhouse-Five,” “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Water for Elephants.”

    Now the objectors are heading to the Howard County school board with their lists. It must be exhausting to read all those books and demand that a school bans them, right?

    “When we see the challenge forms,” Jones, the legislator, said, “there’s a box that asks: ‘Have you read this book that you’re challenging?’ And more times than not, it’s ‘No, I haven’t read the book.’”..............

    The fact is, you can’t have it both ways, book banners. You can’t claim freedom and liberty and then decide what books other people can read. You can’t object to the government, then ask the government to do your parenting for you by banning the books you don’t want your kids to read..............


     
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    As Republicans nationwide continue to sound the alarm about how children are supposedly being indoctrinated and "groomed" into adopting LGBTQ identities at school, West Virginia legislators are pushing a new kind of crackdown on books deemed "obscene." The idea is as simple as it is chilling: make librarians and teachers criminally liable for providing such material to kids.

    House Bill 4654, introduced by Republican Delegate Brandon Steele, passed in the West Virginia House of Delegates on Friday by a vote of 85-12 and now heads to the state Senate. (The "nays" included all 11 Democrats in the House.) Rather than establishing a new law, HB 4654 would simply strike the first two exemptions to an existing code prohibiting the "preparation, distribution, or exhibition of obscene matter to minors." These include any "bona fide school" presenting the content as part of a "local or state approved curriculum," as well as any "public library, or museum, which is displaying or distributing any obscene matter to a minor only when the minor was accompanied by his or her parent."

    Steele argued in the chamber ahead of the vote that removing those protections against criminal liability for teachers, librarians, and other educators is crucial to children's safety. "I'm here to protect our young people and make sure they are not put in a vulnerable position where they are presented with pure pornography in an effort to groom them and prepare them for a potential sexual abuse or sexual assault," he said. Tony Hodge, co-chair of the West Virginia GOP, warned that opponents of the bill "want obscene material available to children."

    But the bill's detractors say it's a clear attempt to purge books and information that may challenge strict conservative values from institutions of learning. The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia noted that fearmongering about "pedophile librarians" brought HB 4654 out of committee and onto the House floor. "The bill is designed to create confusion for educators about what kinds of materials can be taught or displayed," the nonprofit chapter posted last week on X (formerly Twitter). It also accused proponents of using examples of allegedly criminal content that did not meet the definition of obscenity...........






     
    As Republicans nationwide continue to sound the alarm about how children are supposedly being indoctrinated and "groomed" into adopting LGBTQ identities at school, West Virginia legislators are pushing a new kind of crackdown on books deemed "obscene." The idea is as simple as it is chilling: make librarians and teachers criminally liable for providing such material to kids.

    House Bill 4654, introduced by Republican Delegate Brandon Steele, passed in the West Virginia House of Delegates on Friday by a vote of 85-12 and now heads to the state Senate. (The "nays" included all 11 Democrats in the House.) Rather than establishing a new law, HB 4654 would simply strike the first two exemptions to an existing code prohibiting the "preparation, distribution, or exhibition of obscene matter to minors." These include any "bona fide school" presenting the content as part of a "local or state approved curriculum," as well as any "public library, or museum, which is displaying or distributing any obscene matter to a minor only when the minor was accompanied by his or her parent."

    Steele argued in the chamber ahead of the vote that removing those protections against criminal liability for teachers, librarians, and other educators is crucial to children's safety. "I'm here to protect our young people and make sure they are not put in a vulnerable position where they are presented with pure pornography in an effort to groom them and prepare them for a potential sexual abuse or sexual assault," he said. Tony Hodge, co-chair of the West Virginia GOP, warned that opponents of the bill "want obscene material available to children."

    But the bill's detractors say it's a clear attempt to purge books and information that may challenge strict conservative values from institutions of learning. The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia noted that fearmongering about "pedophile librarians" brought HB 4654 out of committee and onto the House floor. "The bill is designed to create confusion for educators about what kinds of materials can be taught or displayed," the nonprofit chapter posted last week on X (formerly Twitter). It also accused proponents of using examples of allegedly criminal content that did not meet the definition of obscenity...........







    Gotta keep the kids in WV stupid.
     
    But the bill's detractors say it's a clear attempt to purge books and information that may challenge strict conservative values from institutions of learning. The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia noted that fearmongering about "pedophile librarians" brought HB 4654 out of committee and onto the House floor. "The bill is designed to create confusion for educators about what kinds of materials can be taught or displayed," the nonprofit chapter posted last week on X (formerly Twitter). It also accused proponents of using examples of allegedly criminal content that did not meet the definition of obscenity...........

    and yet they don't purge the churches of all the pedo's
     
    Even in high school I wasn't checking out anything I wouldn't have wanted my parents to know about but Jesus, where does this stop?
    =======================================

    ATLANTA (AP) — A proposal that would require school libraries to notify parents of every book their child checks out was advanced by Georgia senators Tuesday, while a proposal to subject school librarians to criminal charges for distributing material containing obscenity waits in the wings.

    The measures are part of a broad and continuing push by Republicans in many states to root out what they see as inappropriate material from schools and libraries, saying books and electronic materials are corrupting children.

    Opponents say it's a campaign of censorship meant to block children's freedom to learn, while scaring teachers and librarians into silence for fear of losing their jobs or worse.

    Georgia senators are also considering bills to force all public and school libraries in the state to cut ties with the American Library Association and to restrict school libraries' ability to hold or acquire any works that depict sexual intercourse or sexual arousal. Neither measure has advanced out of committee ahead of a deadline next week for bills to pass out of their originating chamber.

    The state Senate Education and Youth Committee voted 5-4 Tuesday to advance Senate Bill 365 to the full Senate for more debate. The proposal would let parents choose to receive an email any time their child obtains library material.

    Sen. Greg Dolezal, the Republican from Cumming sponsoring the bill, said the Forsyth County school district, which has seen years of public fighting over what books students should be able to access, is already sending the emails. Other supporters said it was important to make sure to guarantee the rights of parents to raise their children as they want.

    “I can’t understand the resistance of allowing parents to know what their children are seeing, doing and participating in while they’re at school, especially in a public school system," said Senate Majority Leader Steve Gooch, a Dahlonega Republican.

    Opponents said it's important for students to be able to explore their interests and that the bill could violate students' First Amendment rights.

    “This is part of a larger national and Georgia trend to try to limit access," said Nora Benavidez, a board member of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation and lawyer for Free Press, a group that seeks to democratize the media. “The logical endpoint of where this bill, as well as others, are taking us is for children to have less exposure to ideas.”

    The proposal to make school librarians subject to criminal penalties if they violate state obscenity laws, Senate Bill 154, is even more controversial. Current law exempts public librarians, as well as those who work for public schools, colleges and universities, from penalties for distributing material that meets Georgia's legal definition of “harmful to minors.”

    Dolezal argues that school librarians should be subject to such penalties, although he offered an amendment Tuesday that makes librarians subject to penalties only if they “knowingly” give out such material. He argues that Georgia shouldn't have a double standard where teachers can be prosecuted for obscenity while librarians down the hall cannot. He said his real aim is to drive any such material out of school libraries.........

     
    Even in high school I wasn't checking out anything I wouldn't have wanted my parents to know about but Jesus, where does this stop?
    =======================================

    ATLANTA (AP) — A proposal that would require school libraries to notify parents of every book their child checks out was advanced by Georgia senators Tuesday, while a proposal to subject school librarians to criminal charges for distributing material containing obscenity waits in the wings.

    The measures are part of a broad and continuing push by Republicans in many states to root out what they see as inappropriate material from schools and libraries, saying books and electronic materials are corrupting children.

    Opponents say it's a campaign of censorship meant to block children's freedom to learn, while scaring teachers and librarians into silence for fear of losing their jobs or worse.

    Georgia senators are also considering bills to force all public and school libraries in the state to cut ties with the American Library Association and to restrict school libraries' ability to hold or acquire any works that depict sexual intercourse or sexual arousal. Neither measure has advanced out of committee ahead of a deadline next week for bills to pass out of their originating chamber.

    The state Senate Education and Youth Committee voted 5-4 Tuesday to advance Senate Bill 365 to the full Senate for more debate. The proposal would let parents choose to receive an email any time their child obtains library material.

    Sen. Greg Dolezal, the Republican from Cumming sponsoring the bill, said the Forsyth County school district, which has seen years of public fighting over what books students should be able to access, is already sending the emails. Other supporters said it was important to make sure to guarantee the rights of parents to raise their children as they want.

    “I can’t understand the resistance of allowing parents to know what their children are seeing, doing and participating in while they’re at school, especially in a public school system," said Senate Majority Leader Steve Gooch, a Dahlonega Republican.

    Opponents said it's important for students to be able to explore their interests and that the bill could violate students' First Amendment rights.

    “This is part of a larger national and Georgia trend to try to limit access," said Nora Benavidez, a board member of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation and lawyer for Free Press, a group that seeks to democratize the media. “The logical endpoint of where this bill, as well as others, are taking us is for children to have less exposure to ideas.”

    The proposal to make school librarians subject to criminal penalties if they violate state obscenity laws, Senate Bill 154, is even more controversial. Current law exempts public librarians, as well as those who work for public schools, colleges and universities, from penalties for distributing material that meets Georgia's legal definition of “harmful to minors.”

    Dolezal argues that school librarians should be subject to such penalties, although he offered an amendment Tuesday that makes librarians subject to penalties only if they “knowingly” give out such material. He argues that Georgia shouldn't have a double standard where teachers can be prosecuted for obscenity while librarians down the hall cannot. He said his real aim is to drive any such material out of school libraries.........

    Who is stopping parents from indoctrinating, sorry, raising their children the way they want right now?
     
    AUSTIN, Texas — A librarian is suing a Texas county for firing her after she refused to remove books with content related to race and LGBTQ+ experiences, according to a complaint obtained by the Austin American-Statesman, part of the USA TODAY Network.

    Plaintiff Suzette Baker, a Texas native, was the head librarian at the Kingsland Public Library in Llano County, about 65 miles northwest of Austin. She is suing the county, the county Commissioners Court, County Judge Ron Cunningham and several community activists who were appointed to the Library Advisory Board during a push for book removals.

    Baker is arguing that terminating her employment constitutes discrimination against minority groups through book bans, suppressing her First Amendment rights as well as those of other residents. The complaint seeks back pay, attorney's fees and an injunction ordering the county to cease behavior that discriminates against minorities and suppresses residents' First Amendment rights.

    A veteran and mother of five adult children, Baker had more than a decade of experience as a librarian before joining the library and loved her job, which she considered her life’s calling. Baker, 57, now works as a cashier at a hardware store in town, she said, "trying to make ends meet."

    Reading "teaches you empathy. It teaches you how to be a human," she said in a phone interview with the Statesman.

    The lawsuit highlights the impact of increased censorship of literature across the country in rural communities such as Llano County, where free access to information remains in jeopardy despite a federal court's 2023 order that the county restore titles it had removed from its shelves. It is the latest legal battle over what content children should have access to in public libraries, especially books that touch on race or LGBTQ+ issues.................


     
    Republican state senators passed a bill requiring Georgia libraries to end their affiliation with the American Library Association.

    On Thursday, the Georgia State Senate voted 33 to 20 in favor of Senate Bill 390, which aims to prohibit the use of public funds and private donations for the ALA. The bill is now advancing to the House for review.

    “The proposed Georgia legislation is based on false narratives that would restrict ALA and its resources for no valid reason. All organizations in any sector — business, legal, health, education, trades — should be concerned about this arbitrary effort to restrict the freedom of trade, freedom of speech, and freedom to associate,” the ALA wrote in a statement last month opposing the bill.

    This news comes as many states are trying to ban books from libraries. In the first eight months of 2023, there were nearly 700 attempts to restrict access to almost 2,000 different books and library services across the U.S., according to the ALA.............

     

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