Books Restricted, Removed in MS, IA, OR, and FL Districts; 'Out of Darkness' Stays at NC High School | Censorship Roundup

In the latest Censorship Roundup, administrators pull books from shelves and require parental consent based on individual complaints and an organization's list of "problematic" titles.

Books moved to "restricted" status in Mississippi

Madison County (MS) School District has placed more than 20 books on restricted status in its elementary, middle, and high schools following parent complaints. Students will be required to obtain parental permission before checking out any of the titles while a team of educators meets to review the books, according to the Mississippi Today.

The books were challenged for “mature content,” according to Madison County Schools director of communications Gene Wright.

“These books may contain content that requires more mature thinking to appropriately process in the context of the literature. We want to partner with parents in terms of what reading material their students are checking out,” Wright said in the Mississippi Today story. “Our district values the free exchange of ideas and respects parents’ different views regarding what reading material is appropriate for their children.”

While many titles on the restricted list are being repeatedly challenged across the country—Beloved by Toni Morrison, Dear Martin by Nic Stone, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez, and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, to name just a few—some are not among those that were repeatedly challenged over the last year, including The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden and Uglies by Scott Westerfeld.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian pulled from seventh grade curriculum

Following a Facebook post that has since been deleted, the Ottumwa (IA) Community School District has directed teachers at Evans Middle School to stop teaching The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie in seventh grade Language Arts classes while it reviews the book’s content, according to the Ottumwa Courier.

A school board-approved reconsideration committee of teachers, administrators, parents, and community members will evaluate the book. The district said that from now on, parents will be notified of novel selections before they are assigned and will be given the choice to opt-out with an alternative assignment, according to the report.

The Handmaid's Tale graphic novel removed in Oregon district

Following a reconsideration committee’s decision in the Medford (OR) School District, all copies of the graphic novel adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood have been removed from its schools, according to the Mail Tribune.

The initial parent complaint cited images of nudity and suicide, and a committee made up of two librarians and other school personnel decided the graphic novel adaptation did not meet the “needs of the school nor the needs of individual students,” according to the report, which said the district is now reviewing its schools’ graphic novels collection.

The original version of the novel remains available in district school libraries.

"Proactive" superintendent removes books in Florida

Walton County (FL) Schools superintendent Russell Hughes directed school libraries to remove copies of 24 books while they are under review after receiving a list of “problematic” titles from a conservative advocacy group, according to the Northwest Florida Daily News. The list cited 58 books, and Hughes removed the 24 that were found in the district’s libraries.

"Being proactive, I asked staff to remove the books from circulation for the purposes of reviewing and re-evaluating age-appropriateness and content, especially in the context of Florida's recent legislative session," Hughes said in a statement.

The titles removed include Forever… by Judy Blume, Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi, and A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas.

Out of Darkness stays in NC district

A panel appointed by the Wake County (NC) Board of Education has ruled in favor of keeping Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez available on district school library shelves, according to WRAL.

The same complainant’s first challenge targeted Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison, citing sexually explicit content and a negative representation of Christianity. In both challenges, a three-person panel from the county school board ruled the books could stay because they are not required reading. The county panel’s decision upheld those from Cary (NC) High School, where the original complaint was filed, and the district. The latter of which found Out of Darkness was not pervasively vulgar, inappropriate, or educationally unsuitable, according to the report.

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