You Can’t Read That!

You Can’t Read That! is a periodic post about book banning, featuring news and opinion roundups, personal observations, and reviews.

YCRT! News Roundup

Banned Books Are About to Be the New Pussy Hats (Rolling Stone)

It was a superlatively glib photo-op: A set restaurant table, a stack of pristine books, and Gov. Gavin Newsom doing his best impression of Rodin’s The Thinker. “Reading some banned books to figure out what these states are so afraid of,” the caption read.

The California Democrat posted that photo to Twitter late last month. In his hands, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, opened to an early page. On a table before him: Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, George Orwell’s 1984, and Art Spiegelman’s Maus — a Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel that a Tennessee school district had recently stripped from its curriculum. (Never mind that To Kill A Mockingbird has often drawn ire from the left, not the right, for its racist portrayals.)

Inside the “Dangerous” Math Textbooks Desantis Claims Would “Indoctrinate Students” (Popular Information)

“The textbook also includes short write-ups of mathematicians from throughout history. Two write-ups spotlight African American mathematicians––Elbert Frank Cox, the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics, and Dorothy Johnson Vaughan, an African American mathematician who led a NASA unit.”

Tennessee Does Its Part In National School Censorship Crusade (Wonkette)

The Tennessee General Assembly passed an exciting new school censorship bill Wednesday that will give a politically appointed commission the power to decide what books are allowed in every school library in the state. No more worries about local control, because the commission will now be able to dictate what kids all over the state can read. And to sweeten the deal, the bill’s House sponsor, state Rep. Jerry Sexton (R), said that if it were up to him, any books the commission didn’t approve would be burned. Sadly for the more censorious culture warriors in the Lege, actually putting books to the torch didn’t make it into the law. There’s always next year!

Georgia House Passes Bill To Change the Way Books Are Banned in Schools (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Legislation that would require principals rather than librarians to decide which books should be banned from schools passed the Georgia House on Friday.

Teachers Fear the Chilling Effect of Florida’s So-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Law (NPR)

“Honestly, I feel like it’s just a blatant attack on education,” says Jorje Botello, who has taught eighth grade American history for 19 years at Osceola Middle School in rural Okeechobee, Fla. “A lot of these bills are written by people that have never set foot in a public education classroom.”

Ohio School Cancels Entirely Voluntary ‘Diversity Day’ Because New School Board Ran Against ‘CRT’ (Wonkette)

This is what happens when these people take over school boards. Students can’t even hold a nice event celebrating diversity now because a bunch of white adults are terrified that it will somehow involved critical race theory, despite the fact that they have absolutely no idea what critical race theory even is. Of course it doesn’t matter; to them, “talking about racism existing” is “critical race theory.” That’s what they want to ban probably while simultaneously complaining about threats to free speech.

(Meanwhile in the Republic of Gilead) Technology for Parent Monitoring of Student Library Use Is Being Developed by Follett (Book Riot)

On March 30th, Follett Learning — the creators of Destiny, a popular library management system used in school libraries — posted a letter on LinkedIn saying that they are developing technology to allow parents to more easily monitor and restrict their children’s choice of library books. Many school librarians were also emailed the letter.

Book Bans Move to Center Stage in the Red-State Education Wars (CNN)

Though battles over access to controversial titles traditionally have been fought district by district, and even school by school, Republican-controlled states including Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Texas are now pushing statewide rules that make it easier for critics to remove books they dislike from school libraries in every community. […] At the same time, although none have yet passed, more red states are seriously debating proposals that would make it easier for critics to force the removal of books even from public libraries serving the adult population.

U.S. Schools Pull More Than 1,000 Book Titles in ‘Unparalleled’ Censorship Bid, Report Finds (Reuters)

“Challenges to books, specifically books by non white male authors are happening at the highest rates we’ve ever seen,” Jonathan Friedman, director of PEN America’s Free Expression Program and lead author of the report, said in a news release.

Efforts to Ban Books Jumped an ‘Unprecedented’ Four-fold in 2021, Ala Report Says (NPR)

The ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom counted 729 challenges to library, school, and university materials in 2021. It’s a significant jump: Last year the group noted 156 challenges — and in 2019, there were 377. Although the 2020 number was impacted by the pandemic, which forced schools and libraries to shut down, the ALA said they don’t usually get more than 500 book challenges in any given year.

YCRT! Resistance Roundup

Arlington Public Library Takes a Stand Against Banning Books in Schools (Fox 5 Washington DC)

“I totally think parents should absolutely be engaged in what their children read, and it is their right to say what they want their children to read and not read,” she said. “What’s not anyone’s right is to restrict what another parent might want their children to read. […] It’s our job, and it’s our responsibility to answer to people here who want to read all the things.”

Students Counter Censorship Attempts with Banned Books Clubs (School Library Journal)

They read books that have been historically banned, as well as the ones currently being challenged, and talk about how social context influences censorship. The clubs have become a way for students to make their voices heard in a debate usually dominated by adults. They are run through schools, bookstores, and teen centers across the country, including in Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

Books For All: NYPL Supports the Right to Read Banned Books (New York Public Library)

The New York Public Library’s mission is rooted in the principles of free and open access to knowledge, information, and all perspectives—in essence, the right to read. In light of recent, prominent efforts to ban books in communities across the United States, we have now partnered with publishers Hachette Book Group, Macmillan Publishers, and Scholastic to make a small selection of commonly banned or challenged books available to anyone who chooses to read them—all for free via our e-reader app, SimplyE.

Brooklyn Library Offers Access To Banned Ebooks to Teens Across the U.S. (Book Riot)

Brooklyn Public Library, one of the largest library systems in the U.S., has launched the Books UnBanned initiative, which allows anyone across the country between the ages of 13 and 21 to get a free eCard from BPL, which will give them access to 350,000 ebooks and 200,000 audiobooks, as well as access to databases.

Book Bans: Books Are Innocent Until Proven Guilty, Too (KOMO News)

Nossel said she anticipates a new federal law being passed in the coming years to address these books being challenged, as challenges to book bans bring up processes that were not followed. In the meantime, she said librarians and school officials need to stand up and insist that books can’t be removed until they see the due process. As she put it, “It’s sort of innocent until proven guilty, in this case for a book.”

YCRT! Loudoun County Watch*

Loudoun Parent Upset Over School Performer’s ‘Provocative’ Instagram Account (ABC 7 News)

“I don’t care what you do in your personal life,” one parent told 7News. “But he shouldn’t have encouraged teenagers to follow him on Instagram during a school setting if he had provocative, naked photos. That’s uncalled for and the school district should have vetted this man’s public social media posts. This is so inappropriate and Loudoun County Public Schools hasn’t issued an apology to parents and students.”

Organization Critical of Loudoun Schools Apologizes for Controversial Retweet (NBC 4 Washington)

An organization that’s been highly critical of Loudoun County Public Schools is coming under fire itself. Fight for Schools has been working to try to recall several school board members. Now, the group’s founder, Ian Prior, is apologizing for a retweet on the Fight for Schools account that seemed to advocate the rape of a school nurse working in Connecticut.

*The Loudoun County, Virginia, school board is a hot spot for book bannings and anti-CRT protests. It is where parents claim school transgender-inclusive policies led to their daughter being raped in a girl’s restroom by a cross-dressing boy. It is, arguably, where Virginia’s book-banning Governor Glenn Younkin got the votes that put him over the top. For these reasons, YCRT! keeps an eye out for Loudon County School Board news.

YCRT! Teabagger Corner (aka Know Thy Enemy)

‘I Can’t Stand This Filth:’ Osceola School Library Books Under Review, Parents Demand Removal (Click Orlando.com)

Outraged parents came up one by one Tuesday addressing the Osceola County School board. Multiple parents read excerpts from books they said were found in school media centers.

“Have you ever gotten a [sexual act]…” one parent read aloud. “Lara unbuttoned my pants and pulled down my boxers a little and pulled out my penis.” That is a passage from the book “Looking for Alaska.” The parent said it is disturbing these kinds of books are at the fingertips of students.

Bethany S. Mandel on Twitter (Apr 11):


Libs of TikTok on Twitter (Apr 27):

© 2022, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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