District Accused Of Banning Popular Coding Book For Girls

The Central York Pennsylvania school district is accused of banning books from the popular Girls Who Code series, but the district denies all claims.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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Pen America, one of the United States’ largest activist groups documenting book bans across the country recently updated its extensive list of challenged books in libraries and schools – a list that is ever-growing. They cited a school district in Pennsylvania as removing books from the popular fiction series Girls Who Code, but the district claims it never happened. So who is correct in this perpetual culture war restricting school libraries’ resources?

For now, the matter appears to be a “he said she said” debate. Many are apt to believe Pen America, as the group has been known to accurately document instances such as this for an entire century. What’s more, the Central York school district has made national headlines in the past few years for extensive restrictions in school to popular titles like Girls Who Code.

The series follows a diverse group of young female students who bond after joining their school’s coding club. Many parents call it the modern-era Babysitters Club series. The stories were crafted in partnership with the Girls Who Code organization – a nonprofit operating computer coding clubs in schools across the nation for girls.

The Girls Who Code series, published by Penguin House, currently has four titles under its belt. All four, The Friendship Code, Team BFF: Race to the Finish!, Light, Music, Code!, and Spotlight on Coding Club were all said to be banned in schools within the Central York district. The context to why they were prohibited remains mysterious, but it is believed to be due to their diverse nature. 

Books with a diverse theme focusing on people of color were reportedly banned at disproportionate rates this past year. Furthermore, 21% were said to be restricted due to race and racism themes. Many fear that this is the reason Girls Who Code is gaining negative attention.

Speaking with Business Insider about the alleged banning, Reshma Saujani, the CEO and founder of Girls Who Code ridiculed the district for removing the titles. She discussed how the series has promoted a desire for STEM and coding among young girls. For decades, there have been pushes to get more female students involved in these fields which are notoriously underrepresented by girls. 

Although the Pennsylvania district refutes all claims that Girls Who Code is being banned, many are hesitant to believe them. In 2020, the district was ridiculed for removing all resources and novels thought to lay shame and guilt on students. This followed a parent’s complaint about a movie that his daughter was shown in class, which he alleges left her feeling ashamed for being white.

Girls Who Code

There may be no clear-cut answer to whether or not Girls Who Code remains on bookshelves in the Pennsylvania district or not, the story sheds light on a growing debate in America. Many feel that books discussing LGBTQ+ themes, sexuality, gender identity, and divisive concepts on race should not be allowed to be homed in school settings. But citing often citing freedom of choice, book banning opposers argue that these removals are a form of censorship.