Saturday, September 27, 2014

Free People Read Freely - Texas Edition 2014

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas has produced a report on attempted book banning by Texas school districts for the last eighteen years. I am delighted to report that challenges and actual bans decreased last year. Out of 32 challenges, 10 books were banned in Texas schools during the 2013-2014 school year. 10 books doesn't sound like a lot but the percentage is 1/3.

 Interestingly, fully half of those bans occurred in the same district: Vanguard Academy Charter School. They banned all five books that were challenged. Clear Creek ISD had the second highest number of challenges: One of the three books challenged was removed from elementary library shelves and reassigned to intermediate schools. Another book was restricted by an intermediate school. And the third challenged book was retained with no restrictions. 

The results of this report are below and include the reasons given for each challenge, which makes for some amusing reading. Sometimes I just want to shake somebody and holler, "Get a grip!" In addition, some people seem to believe their kids don't actually possess physical bodies; someone in Smithville has a problem with Muslims; and someone should define "vulgarity" for me in the context of junior high. Junior high kids themselves are famously vulgar.

Special mention for an outstanding jobAransas County ISD and Carroll ISD - Thank you for sticking to your guns in the interests of free speech.

Special mention for spineless panderingLevelland ISD, The Ehrhart School and Vanguard Academy Charter School - way to model intellectual rigor and stand for liberal arts education, y'all!

Special mention for causing me a face-palmConroe ISD - for removing The Princess Diaries.

Very very special mention for being totally clueless - The parent who objected to A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens because they didn't want their kid reading about ghosts. Someone wanna explain the concept of metaphor? Anyone?


BANNED BOOKS (books removed from library shelves or class reading lists):
  1. The Taste of the Night, R. L. Stine
  2. Bad Kitty Christmas, Nick Bruel
  3. Ttfn, Lauren Myracle
  4. L8r, g8r, Lauren Myracle
  5. Enter 3 Witches: A Story of Macbeth, Caroline B. Cooney
  6. A Wizard of Mars, Diane Duane
  7. The Salem Witch Trial: A Reference, David K. Goss
  8. The Reformed Vampire Support, Catherine Jinks
  9. Cliques, Jen Jones
  10. Drama, Raina Telgemeier
RESTRICTED BOOKS (books restricted to readers based on age, reading level, parental permission, etc.):
  1. Lush, Natasha Friend
  2. Princess Forever, Meg Cabot
  3. Beastly, Alex Flinn
  4. Love, Stargirl, Jerry Spinelli
  5. Demons, Possessions, and Exorcisms, Susan Gregson
  6. Lovingly Alice, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  7. Amulet (series), Kaza Kibuishi
  8. Bone (series), Jeff Smith
  9. Ghostopolis (series), Doug TenNapel
All Challenged Books (by school district):

Aransas County ISD

Book: Stuck in the Middle by Ariel Schrag
School: Rockport-Fulton Middle School
Reason Cited: Profanity
Action Taken: Retained (no restrictions)

Book: It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
School: Rockport-Fulton Middle School
Reason Cited: Inappropriate for grade level
Action Taken: Retained (no restrictions)

Austin ISD

Book: Demons, Possessions, and Exorcisms by Susan Gregson
School: Oak Hill Elementary School
Reason Cited: Violence or horror, offensive to religious tendencies, speaks of depression as an outcome of demon possession
Action Taken: Use restricted
Note: Book retained but must have parental approval for younger students

Book: The Color of Water by Kim Gong Hwa
School: Gus Garcia Middle School
Reason Cited: Sexual content
Action Taken: Decision pending (process not completed)

Carroll ISD

Book: Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz
School: Eubanks Intermediate (5th/6th grade)
Reason Cited: Politically, socially, or racial offensive
Action Taken: Retained (no restrictions)
Note: Parent felt book promoted illegal immigration and was not age appropriate

Chapel Hill ISD

Book: Drama by Raina Telgemeier
School: Chapel Hill Elementary
Reason Cited: Sexual content
Action Taken: Banned

Clear Creek ISD

Book: Beastly by Alex Flinn
School: Seabrook Intermediate
Reason Cited: Sexual content
Action Taken: Use restricted

Book: Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
School: League City Intermediate
Reason Cited: Sexual content
Action Taken: Retained (no restrictions)

Book: Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
School: North Pointe Elementary
Reason Cited: Mature content throughout book
Action Taken: Use restricted
Note: Book was moved to intermediate school

Conroe ISD

Book: Princess Forever by Meg Cabot
School: Austin Elementary
Reason Cited: Sexual content
Action Taken: Use restricted
Note: The book was offered to junior high and high school for inclusion in their collections

Cotulla ISD

Book: The Taste of the Night by R. L. Stine
School: Newman Middle School
Reason Cited: Too mature for campus level audience
Action Taken: Banned

Denton ISD

Book: Lovingly Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
School: Ginnings Elementary
Reason Cited: Sexual content or nudity
Action Taken: Use restricted
Note: Book was moved to secondary campus

The Ehrhart School

Book: Bad Kitty Christmas by Nick Bruel
School: The Ehrhart School
Reason Cited: Promotes homosexual/lesbian couples
Action Taken: Banned

Florence ISD

Book: Stupid Fast by George Herbach
School: Florence Middle School
Reason Cited: Profanity, sexual content
Action Taken: Alternate book allowed (curriculum only)

Fort Worth ISD

Book: Amulet (series) by Kaza Kibuishi
School: J. T. Stevens Elementary School
Reason Cited: Too graphic, inappropriate language
Action Taken: Use restricted

Book: Bone (series) by Jeff Smith
School: J. T. Stevens Elementary School
Reason Cited: Too graphic, inappropriate language
Action Taken: Use restricted

Book: Ghostopolis (series) by Doug TenNapel
School: J. T. Stevens Elementary School
Reason Cited: Too graphic, inappropriate language
Action Taken: Use restricted

Grand Prairie ISD

Book: How to Steal a Car by Pete Hautman
School: Truman Middle School
Reason Cited: Profanity, sexual content, drugs or alcohol, reinforces the belief that anything is permissible as long as you can get away with it
Action Taken: Decision pending (has not gone before committee)

Highland ISD

Book: The Giver by Lois Lowry
School: The Highland School
Reason Cited: Offensive to religious sensitivities
Action Taken: Alternate book allowed (curriculum only)

Levelland ISD

Book: Ttfn by Lauren Myracle
School: Levelland Middle School
Reason Cited: Profanity, vulgarity
Action Taken: Banned

Book: L8r, g8r by Lauren Myracle
School: Levelland Middle School
Reason Cited: Profanity, vulgarity
Action Taken: Banned

Nederland ISD

Book: Leprechauns Don’t Play Basketball by Marcia Jones
School: Langham Elementary
Reason Cited: Book contained references to magic or wizardry
Action Taken: Alternate book allowed (curriculum only)

Northside ISD

Book: American Government Roots and Reform by Karen O’Connor, Larry J. Sabato, and Alixandra B. Yanus
School: Warren High School
Reason Cited: Text did not include a copy of the Constitution nor the Declaration of Independence
Action Taken: Retained (no restriction)
Note: Students were provided with online access to these documents as well as paper copies

Overton ISD

Book: Lush by Natasha Friend
School: Overton Middle School
Reason Cited: Profanity, sexual content, offensive to religious sensitivities, drugs or alcohol
Action Taken: Use restricted

Red Oak ISD

Book: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
School: iScholars Magnet Academy of Red Oak ISD
Reason Cited: Parent did not want the student reading about ghosts
Action Taken: Alternate assignment was provided for the student

Smithville ISD

Book: In the Country of Men by Hisham Matar
School: Smithville High School
Reason Cited: Sexual content or nudity, politically, racially, or socially offensive
Action Taken: Alternate book allowed (curriculum only)

Book: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
School: Smithville High School
Reason Cited: Politically, racially, or socially offensive
Action Taken: Retained (no restrictions)

Vanguard Academy Charter School

Book: Enter 3 Witches: A Story of Macbeth by Caroline B. Cooney
School: Secondary School
Reason Cited: Violence or horror
Action Taken: Banned

Book: A Wizard of Mars by Diane Duane
School: Secondary School
Reason Cited: Violence or horror
Action Taken: Banned

Book: The Salem Witch Trial: A Reference by David K. Goss
School: Secondary School
Reason Cited: Violence or horror
Action Taken: Banned

Book: The Reformed Vampire Support by Catherine Jinks
School: Secondary School
Reason Cited: Violence or horror
Action Taken: Banned

Book: Cliques by Jen Jones
School: Secondary School
Reason Cited: Violence or horror
Action Taken: Banned


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