Dearborn schools to ban some books as censorship debate escalates


Under its new guidelines for selecting and reviewing library books, Dearborn Schools said Monday night that two controversial books had been removed from library shelves; three will remain, but with restrictions; and no decision has been made on two others.

The district’s brouhaha book is part of a long-running debate about censorship and what’s appropriate for students. In Dearborn, the discussion has largely revolved around whether specific works, or parts of them, are too sexually explicit for young minds.

At the same time, the borough insisted on Monday that the seven titles under study represent only 0.002% of the borough’s total collection.

Additionally, in the age of Amazon, it is unclear if removing books from school libraries will have any lasting effects, as students are free to bring their own copies of these books to school, read them, discuss them and share them with others.

On top of that, the district said, while addressing the concerns of a minority of parents is important, educators face a much bigger issue: basic literacy.

“With around half a million books in our school libraries, we realize there might be a few books that have been added over the years that parents and staff agree shouldn’t be there,” Superintendent Glenn Maleyko said in prepared remarks. “However, we want to assure our parents that these books are rare and that, overall, our libraries offer a wide range of age-appropriate materials to encourage students to strengthen their academic skills and develop their love of reading.”

Here is what the district has decided:

  • Alice Sebold’s “The Lovely Bones” and Mike Curatowas’ “Flamer” are suitable for high school students.
  • Rainbow Rowell’s “Eleanor and Park” was inappropriate for middle school, but appropriate for high schoolers. Copies of the book, the district said, will be removed from middle schools, but will remain on high school shelves.
  • Sapphire’s “Push” and Casey McQuiston’s “Red, White and Royal Blue” were inappropriate for high school.

No decisions have yet been made on Jason Reynolds’ “All Boys Aren’t Blue” and Juno Dawson’s “This Book is Gay,” but neither book is available to students at libraries, nor was it part of the district collection. They were only available through an e-book service that has been disabled for students in the district.

A parent, the district said, had asked if most of the works were to be in schools last summer.

Schools communications director David Mustonen, the Free Press the district is also sorting through and inventorying the volumes in its collection.

“The challenge is just getting the kids to read,” he said, calling it a constant battle with screen time. “We all know the importance of reading and we all want kids to spend time reading and not just have screens in their faces all the time and everyone needs to be part of that discussion.”

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While public school book bans have gone on for decades, the scope of that censorship has recently widened, according to a 2022 report, “Banned in the USA: Rising School Book Bans Threaten Free Expression and Students’ First Amendment Rights,” by New York-based nonprofit group PEN America.

According to the report’s tally, 138 school districts in 32 states banned the books from July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022.

Another report, released last year by the American Library Association, concluded that “libraries have found themselves at the center of a culture war as conservative groups have led a historic effort to ban and challenge materials that discuss racism, gender, politics and sexual identity”. pulling various books from shelves.

Parents at Dearborn Schools have also raised questions about a dozen other titles that will also be reviewed.

In addition, the district said, its media specialists remove obsolete, long-unused, damaged, or age-inappropriate books from students in the building and other staff members conduct an inventory to ensure that students’ books Library catalogs are on its shelves.

Contact Frank Witsil: 313-222-5022 or [email protected].

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