Opinion

Should Specific Books be Banned from Schools?

By Rachel Ali

rachel.ali@spartans.ut.edu

Recently many Conservative Americans have made a call to action to ban books and burn them. Some of the books they plan on removing are said to be explicit. However, with further research, it has been found that many of these books have content concerning the LGBTQ+ community. 

Some of these books include Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye (1970), George M. Johnson’s All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto (2020), Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer: A Memoir (2019), Jonathan Evison’s Lawn Boy (2018). However, the idea of banning books usually comes down to the fact that this specific group of parents wants to “eradicate” the content in them, which is about race and queer topics.

This isn’t the first time books have been banned. Books like Of Mice and Men (1937) and To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) have been banned from school libraries for many reasons. Reasons such as insensitive views on race or violence. It makes sense that parents want to protect their children from sensitive topics, especially if it may hurt those children. But is over censoring a possibility? 

The American Librarian Association (ALA)  discourages banning books since they don’t want to censor these writers. Libraries have a duty to their patriots to provide all the information they might need. 

“ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) receives reports from libraries, schools, and the media on attempts to ban books in communities across the country. We compile lists of challenged books in order to inform the public about censorship efforts that affect libraries and schools,” said a statement by the ALA.

Although you cannot permanently ban a book from all libraries, you can educate people about the content of the books. In my middle school, we had an aisle of labeled prohibited books. This was helpful because instead of just taking them off the shelves, we got to read them and be taught potential insensitivity.

Instead of banning books, I think we should rather turn to the existence of these books as a teaching moment. However, the same group trying to ban these books also seems not to want education to discuss these issues. This book banning issue is following a similar controversy about Critical Race Theory. Many Southern states are attempting to limit the teaching of race in history classes.

As much as there’s a push to protect children in schools from insensitive and inappropriate content, it seems like there’s confusion about what is inappropriate and what needs to be taught. It is concerning that many of the books that are being challenged are about race and LGBTQ+ since a lack of knowledge around these topics can lead to more ignorance. 

Currently, there are no real laws to remove these books, but the controversy is starting an important conversation about what kids should be taught and what we should allow in schools. Personally, I think we should teach these topics with care, however, it is understandable how some parents are concerned about their children’s exposure to certain topics. 

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