The Keller Independent School District pulled more than 40 book titles from schools that are challenged, including The Bible.
Books are being challenged inside school libraries at rates never seen before. Last school year, much of the focus in education news surrounded books with racial, sexual, and gender themes that some parents wanted to see removed from shelves because of their controversial nature. Going into a new academic year, it seems that focus remains situated on contentious novels, as is the case in the Keller Independent School District in Texas.
The day before students returned to school within the Keller Independent School District, faculty in schools received an email from district officials containing a list of 40 books found on library shelves. Schools were instructed to pull copies of all the books on the list, which were currently under review after being challenged. Many of them contained LGBTQ+ themes. Other titles turning heads included a graphic novel adaptation of Anne Frank’s diary and all adaptations of The Bible.
The district made it known that these titles aren’t necessarily being banned from schools. However, because they were challenged for one reason or another, they will now be removed from all Keller Independent School District buildings for a 30-day period while representatives for the district review them. District leaders gave no reason why some of the books were added to the list.
While the decision to challenge the Anne Frank book and The Bible was questionable to many in the Keller Independent School District, others with LGBTQ+ themes weren’t. Popular gender identity thematic books like Gender Queer, and Flamer has been challenged in a vast majority of schools all across the nation. Parents wish to see these books removed because of some of the graphic, sexual imagery within. Those who approve of these award-winning books, however, believe these reads are vital for older school students struggling to cope with their identity. As for The Bible, some wonder if the reason it was challenged is due to the fact that it contains references to sex and violence.
The Keller Independent School District has undergone this process before, but not on this level. Schools across the nation now feel the pressure more than ever from community members urging them to remove certain titles. Just last year, Keller was investigated by the Texas Education Agency. According to a report from The Texas Tribune, this investigation came after the agency received several complaints about explicit books made available to children in schools.
What’s more, the Keller Independent School District appointed three new board members last spring, who were all sponsored in their positions by Patriot Mobile Action. This conservative, Christian political action committee touts itself on a mission to “save America”. Likewise, it may have helped sway the board’s unanimous decision to adopt stricter rulings based on Texas’ policy for reviewing books. As of the end of the last school year, Texas was leading the movement in the newfound renewal of book banning in schools. At that time, 86 school districts across 26 states had removed 1,586 titles in schools. Now that Keller Independent School District is starting a new academic year with a bang, it looks like this school year might just break last year’s record.