This Week in Book Challenges

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Here is an update on the latest book challenges for the week of November 21, 2023.

Brevard County, FL rejects motion to ban 298 books
Brevard School Board Member Jennifer Jenkins, who opposed the ban, said “This [motion] is dangerous, this is irresponsible and it’s completely politically motivated. I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to be taking my lists of information from organizations that have been caught with chapters across the nation standing with the Proud Boys.” All involved say the fight will continue.

Chino Valley, CA school board centralizes power to ban books
Replacing a previous policy that included a review team, the board now makes the decision unilaterally. The same board has already been sued by the state for its forced outing policy of trans kids to their parents. Any district resident can flag books as inappropriate, at which point they will be removed from shelves pending review.

Conroe ISD, TX streamlines book banning process
A 5-2 vote removed a step in the appeals process, essentially making it easier to appeal directly to the same board. Dissenting board members said it would continue the board down the path of censorship.

Daviess County, KY group tried to ban The Banned Book Club; the co-author flew 7,000 miles to speak up
Ryan Estrada, co-author with his wife Kim Hyun Sook and Ko Hyung-Ju of The Banned Book Club, flew from Korea to Kentucky to thank the Daviess County Public Library for supporting the freedom to read after the book was challenged by Daviess County Citizens for Decency. Addressing the Daviess County Fiscal Court meeting on Friday, he detailed his wife’s experiences with state censorship, suggesting proceedings in Daviess were comparable.

Hanover, VA School Board removes 75 books from shelves, including The Handmaid’s Tale and Wicked
After giving itself authority in June to remove books without input from parents or teachers, the board did just that. The full list, which includes literary classics and frequent book ban targets by Ellen Hopkins and Sarah J. Maas, can be found here.

Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District, AK sued by Northern Justice Project, ACLU of Alaska for book bans
56 books were removed from school libraries, including The Handmaid’s Tale, The Bluest Eye, and Slaughterhouse Five. Eight plaintiffs, including six district parents and two district students over the age of 18, claim the bans violate their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

Marietta, GA doubles down on Flamer ban
Rejecting two appeal attempts by district parents, the Marietta School Board voted Thursday to uphold a ban on Flamer by Mike Curato in a specially called meeting. Curato has previously written to Marietta students with words of encouragement and solidarity.

Pine-Richland, PA Board of Education considers book challenges, parental notifications for check-outs of challenged books
Half of the 14 challenged books feature LGBTQ+ characters and four were written by authors of color. Parents and students lined up to protest the board, which became more disposed to censorship in their election earlier this month. Meanwhile, board president Greg DiTullio planned to introduce a measure to notify parents if a student checked out a book that was merely challenged. It was not clear whether that measure would be legal, and it was tabled.

Spotsylvania, VA on book ban rollercoaster
…And people are starting to look queasy. In October, the superintendent Mark Taylor removed 14 books, even after they were reviewed by committees of parents and community members who recommended they remain in high school libraries. The school board has voted to table any changes to the policy. Now Kirk Cameron, former actor known for Growing Pains, a sitcom that ran from 1985 to 1992, has waded into the fray to publicize a conservative book fair organization of which he is a board member.

Wilson County, TN book ban process, in chaos, may revert to state commission
The county allows anyone, including non-residents, to challenge books. Parents and educators have argued it should be a local decision. The director of schools says referring it to a state commission on textbooks will somehow streamline it rather than taking the decision out of the hands of parents. The school board meets December 4 to discuss.