This Week in Book Challenges

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Here is an update on the latest book challenges for the week of December 13, 2023.

Brevard County, FL becomes book ban battleground, but keeps challenged book
Several groups focused their attention on Brevard County, FL ahead of Tuesday’s meeting, which will decide the fate of Patricia McCormick’s Sold. The committee voted to keep the title on the shelves for high school students.

Da Pere, WI school board makes it easier to challenge books. Again. And again. And again
The board of Da Pere School District, WI reverted to an earlier policy, which effectively allows book challenges to be renewed every year. The policy that is being overturned had book challenge decisions stand for three years. This could allow book challengers to waste truly epic amounts of taxpayer money retreading the same ground, in defiance of their own consulting firm’s recommendations to increase the duration of effect for book challenge decisions.

Elkhorn, WI removes 444 books from shelves without review in response to one parent’s challenge
Elkhorn Area School District’s current policy requires books to be removed during the principal’s review. Removed books include The Grapes of Wrath, The Color Purple, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. It is unclear at this time how long the books will be out of circulation or how much time and taxpayer money will be wasted.

Fauquier County, VA school board to consider challenge to When Stars Are Scattered
The YA graphic novel by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed was a National Book Award Finalist and follows the story of the coauthor (Mohamed) and his younger brother in a refugee camp in Kenya, where they fled from Somalia. The review committee recommended retaining the title, but the complainant insisted on elevating the challenge to the board level. The meeting will be held on Thursday, 12/14 at 6 in the Fauquier High School Falcon Room.

Frederick County, MD bans or limits 3 of 35 challenged books
The district banned Triangles by Ellen Hopkins and limited Hopkins’ Crank and Sarah J. Maas’s Empire of Storms to high school use only.

Lexington County School District One, SC raises bar for challenges
The district is considering a step in the right direction, restricting those who can challenge books to include only students, their parents and guardians, and district staff. Separate forms will also be required for each book challenged, as opposed to one form that can include many books. Still, more can be done, including requiring more than one challenge to initiate a review and ensuring the works are considered in their entirety and with respect to artistic and literary merit.

Marietta, GA is at it again, banning 23 more books Tuesday
On Tuesday, the Marietta City School Board voted 6-1 to ban a list of 23 books, following another successful ban of Flamer and other books — which caused author Mike Curato to write a letter of solidarity to Marietta students. The new list includes several books frequently and inappropriately challenged for supposed sexual content, including Beyond Magenta and This Book is Gay.

Niles Charter Township, MI school board lifts restriction on purchase of “violent” books, leaves sexual content restriction in place
The Brandywine school board in Niles Charter Township, MI earlier this year voted to suspend purchases of both violent and allegedly “sexually explicit” books. They voted last week to lift the restriction on violent books while apparently leaving the ban on sexual content in place. In response to the book ban policy, two teachers applied for and received a $5,000 grant from We Need Diverse Books. The board narrowly avoided cutting off its nose to spite its face, though some members wanted to reject the money because the grant included the word “diverse” and criticized the board for banning books in the application.

Rocky Mount, VA school district approves book challenge, parental notification, and age restriction policy
A new policy approved by the Franklin County School Board in Rocky Mount, VA will automatically notify parents of library checkouts and provide a pathway to elevate a book challenge from an opt-out to a ban. In the process of a review, books can also be labeled YA+ and placed in a 17 and up section. The policy will be up for review in six months.

Seaside, OR public library faces first book challenges in decades, prompting fears of more
Community members have reported challenges to And Tango Makes Three, the now-classic board book about two male penguins who make a family, and When Aiden Became a Brother, a board book about a family accepting their young transgender son. The challenge falsely claims the books contain sexually explicit material, yet another example of LGBTQ+ content being considered sexually explicit by default.