TEXAS — As the new school year begins in Texas, the debate over which books are appropriate for the classroom continues. Several school districts in Texas have recently come to national attention for removing certain books, including the Bible and the Diary of Anne Frank.
Conservative lawmakers say the cuts focus on books with obscene content that are unsuitable for students. But critics say this is just a form of book banning and that the removals disproportionately target books containing LGBTQ or minority characters.
“If books that present children’s lived experiences are removed, they will challenge their own value,” said Kerol Harrod, a library and information science teacher at Texas Woman’s University. “And also, education is like a puzzle. The more coins you have, the clearer the picture you have.
Harrod adds that taking information away from students could cause them to look elsewhere for answers, such as the internet, which could expose them to truly inappropriate content.
“If we don’t have trained professionals directing our kids to quality news sources, we force them to places like Google,” he said.
Harrod encourages parents who have concerns to go through the systems in place and speak with their librarians first. He also recommends reading the material to see if it’s really questionable.
“I am a parent. I would tell worried parents, “Do your homework,” Harrod said. “I could read you passages from the Song of Songs in the Bible that would make you blush, but that doesn’t mean it should be banned.”
The debate impacts Texas librarians, who often bear the brunt of the fights.
“I had friends who received death threats,” he said. “Good, competent librarians leave the profession.”