A Texas school district is working to remove books from its library shelves ahead of the fall semester, after being challenged by parents and community members. Among the removed books is a graphic novel adaptation of Anne Frank’s diary, The Bluest Eye and the Bible by Toni Morrison.
It is unclear why more than 40 books were challenged.
The move came after the Keller Independent School District Board of Trustees in Tarrant County in Dallas-Forth Worth established a new policy that called for books to be reviewed. Three members whose campaigns were funded by the conservative Patriot Mobile Action Pac were elected to the Keller school board this year.
In a statement, Keller ISD Superintendent Dr. Rick Westfall said the review process is continuing: “We anticipate that books like The Bible, The Diary of Anne Frank: The Graphic Adaptation and others titles will hit the shelves very soon. (Please note that over 50 copies of The Diary of Anne Frank remained in circulation; only the graphic novel edition was previously challenged and is therefore under review again.)”
Westfall stressed that this was not an outright book ban and said that if the challenged books met the new standards, “the books would be quickly returned to shelves”.
But the suppression of Anne Frank’s diary has raised concerns among local Jewish groups, according at the Washington Post. In a joint statement, the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County and the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas and its Council on Jewish Community Relations asked the school district to “put the book back on the shelf.”
“It is imperative that we teach our children about the Holocaust in an age-appropriate manner, as outlined in the Texas State Standards for Holocaust Education,” the statement said. “At a time of rising anti-Semitism, we must be especially vigilant that nothing like the Holocaust ever happens again.”
The removal of books from public schools is a trend in the United States almost always led by conservative politicians and lawmakers.
A formal assessment from July 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022 conducted by Pen America, the US non-profit organization supporting free speech, showed that 86 school districts in 26 states had banned the books, many of which contained themes of sexuality and race. The assessment found Texas leading the trend.
The organization defines a book ban as “any action taken against a book based on its content and as a result of parental or community challenges, administrative decisions, or in response to direct or threatened action by lawmakers. or other government officials, which leads to a previously accessible book being either completely removed from student availability or when access to a book is restricted or reduced”.