Academics / Opinion

Parents are banning books unfairly in public school libraries

As an independent school in Massachusetts, we feel removed from discussions of banned books in public schools. However, most Americans attend public schools, so it is important that Dana Hall students are exposed to public instruction in order to be responsible citizens.

Unjust book banning in school libraries has been a problem for years. Parents infiltrate school boards in order to ban books that address racism, include LGBTQ+ characters, and have educational information about subjects such as eating disorders and sexual assault. Parents have the right to monitor what their own child reads. They also have the right to attempt to remove a book from a library and speak out at school board meetings. However, going as far as manipulating the system is out of line.

Anyone can challenge a book. Parents, students, or teachers can attempt to remove a book from a school library or school district. Librarians, principals, and school committees are trained on the basic intellectual freedom principles which are taken into account when reviewing the challenged book. The challenger can decide to lodge a formal reconsideration request which is taken to the department’s director. The challenged book is then either dismissed or removed from the library.

This process may seem straightforward- but it becomes complicated, and even unethical, when the school board is influenced too easily by a disgruntled parent. Parents run to be a part of the school board in order to ban the book they believe is inappropriate for a school library, but having a parent dictate what is accessible for the entire school or district majorly restricts many children’s intellectual freedom.

However, this problem does not all fall on the parents. The school board is very much at fault for not standing their ground and being intimidated by parents. School boards should have a more rigid application process to who is allowed on the committee. This way, parents would have to be very dedicated to the school and the book they wish to ban in order to follow through with the process. If a parent does go through with this hypothetical application process, there is even a chance they would rethink the challenged book with the new intellectual freedom principles training.

If school committees stood their ground and made sure parents only got accepted onto the board in an orderly and fair fashion, the number of banned books from public school libraries would decrease.

Image source: The Baker Orange

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