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Book bans at public school libraries are on the rise

Books Bannings. Pushing Back
Posted at 2:44 PM, Mar 08, 2022

The American Library Association and the National Coalition Against Censorship say that the books with which public school libraries stock their shelves are being challenged at record rates.

The groups say that there are usually 300 to 400 book challenges across the country in a typical year. However, they say the same number of books were challenged in just the first few months of the current school year — about four times the normal rate.

"The books that are most frequently getting challenged are books that tell stories of LGBTQ characters or the stories of people of color and the experience of racism," said Nora Pelizzari with the National Coalition Against Censorship.

Efforts to ban books are happening both at the local and state level. Parents proposing bans argue that content in the books is inappropriate for young children. But the experts say parents can keep those books from their children without taking the literature away from other students.

"Parents have rights to influence the education of their own child. They can request an alternative assignment," Pelizzari said. "They can put restrictions on what their own kid can check out from the library."

As more communities consider legislation to ban certain books in schools, the ACLU is also taking legal action.

Last month, the ACLU filed a lawsuit in Missouri, sent a warning letter in Mississippi, and requested files regarding book bans in Tennessee and Montana be made public.

One such book ban caused a national outcry earlier this year. In January, the McMinn County Board of Education in Tennessee voted to remove the graphic novel "Maus" from the curriculum, citing "rough, objectional language” and nudity. The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel depicts real-life events from the Holocaust with Jewish people as mice and Nazis as cats.

In response to the decision, the U.S. Holocaust Museum tweeted, “it is more important than ever for students to learn this history.”