Banning Books

By Kylie Cannon 284

Across the nation, schools have been implementing a ban on books that have depicted themes encompassing racism, the LGBTQ community, and a small percentage containing sexually explicit scenes. There has been a rapid growth of these bans, especially in Pennsylvania, ranking the third most banned books in the country, with 457 bans across eleven districts. The reason for this ban is due to the parents in the districts. While some parents claim to just want more parental control within their children’s curriculum, others are worried that the books are pushing “left-wing propaganda,” and are “grooming” the students.

I wanted to speak to an English teacher on this issue, so I met with Mrs. Cid. I thought back to the parents’ advocating for this book ban and wondered, is “parental control” actually a part of a curriculum? Mrs. Cid told me that communication between parents and teachers is important. Teachers value parental support and input. However, control is a whole different thing. Then, I wanted to know why it was important for students to read books with themes of racism, black representation, and LGBTQ representation. Mrs. Cid informed me that literature builds empathy; when students see people who are different from themselves and see the struggles that they are faced with, it builds understanding and empathy. It is also important for students to be able to see characters in literature who are similar to themselves. Mrs. Cid also brought to my attention how it is important to have these tough conversations in literature and talk about what representation means to everyone. 

Afterward, I met with Ms. Thornton, the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. I wanted to know why representation is important to her. She told me that representation creates less of the  “imposter syndrome,” a psychological occurrence where an individual doubts their skills and/or talents and has a constant internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud. I then asked Ms. Thornton what she thought about parents wanting control within a curriculum. She told me that sometimes, some parents just don’t understand completely how beneficial some of these texts are in representing the spectrum of life.  Theoretically, they want to protect their children, but realistically, banning books may not be the appropriate solution.  This is the time when students are being prepared and introduced to how to deal with difficult situations and controversies through literature.

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