The list of banned books includes “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood, “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison and “Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini.
NAMPA, Idaho- This story originally appeared in the Idaho Press.
The Nampa School Board voted Monday night to permanently remove 22 books from district libraries.
The 22 disputed books were brought to the attention of the district and council for allegedly containing “pornography”, according to a council meeting document.
Committees of staff and parents were in the process of reviewing the books in question, but the vote effectively puts an end to that. However, administrators have expressed interest in developing a formal process for reviewing disputed books in the future.
At a school board meeting in January, a parent raised concerns during a public comment on a book, said district communications director Kathleen Tuck. Books that parents or community members bring to the attention of the board for allegedly questionable content are called “contested books.” Subsequently, the council received emails from other parents questioning the sexual content and appropriateness of additional books available at district libraries, bringing the total to 22 titles. (The list has 24 books, but one book was pulled from library shelves before it was challenged, while another is listed twice.)
The books that will be permanently removed are “Kite Runner,” by Khaled Hosseini; “Leah on the Offbeat,” by Becky Albertalli; “The Prince and the Seamstress,” by Jen Wang; “Thirteen Reasons Why,” by Jay Asher; “Bus 57”, by Dashka Slater; “Drama”, by Raina Telgemeier; “In Search of Alaska”, by John Green; “The Bluest Eye,” by Toni Morrison; “The Handmaid’s Tale”, by Margaret Atwood; “l8r, g8r”, by Lauren Myracle; “Out of Darkness”, by Ashley Hope Perez; “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky; “Crank,” by Ellen Hopkins; “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian;” by Sherman Alexie; “City of Heavenly Fire,” by Cassandra Clare; “Clockwork Princess”, by Cassandra Clare; “Eleanor and Park,” by Rainbow Rowell; “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” by Jonathan Safran Foer; “Sold,” by Patricia McCormick; “Speak”, by Laurie Halse Anderson; “33 Snowfish”, by Adam Rapp; and “It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health,” by Robie H. Harris.
Board Chairman Jeff Kirkman, Vice Chairman Tracey Pearson, and Administrator Marco Valle all voted in favor of scrapping the books “forever,” with Administrator Brook Taylor and Administrator Mandy Simpson voting against.
“I just have a hard time with ‘forever’ when a process hasn’t been completed to actually analyze and review things,” Simpson said, adding that she’s not opposed to books being removed from the shelves for a while. they are under review.
The move is the latest in a series of efforts to remove books that include sex and sexuality from libraries across the country. The Idaho House of Representatives passed a bill that would have penalized librarians for distributing allegedly pornographic material to children, and the city of Meridian is facing a possible tort lawsuit over allegedly questionable material in its libraries.
When the books were “challenged” they were removed from library shelves, Acting Superintendent Gregg Russell said. Staff and parent committees have been formed to begin reviewing the books, Tuck said.
According to a meeting document outlining the review process, committee members used Common Sense Media as a resource, which provides a sexual content score for different books, along with scores on other metrics and an overall score.
The document explaining the process is dated February 25, 2022 and groups the books on the list into three categories. The first category concerns books that should be “removed from the list of disputed books for lack or little sexual content”. Six books seem to have been classified this way: “Kite Runner”, “Leah on the Offbeat”, “The Prince and the Dressmaker”, “Thirteen Reasons Why”, “The 57 Bus” and “Drama”.
For “Kite Runner,” Common Sense Media gives the book a 1 out of 5 for sexual content and states that “the author describes romantic love and the desire for affection of caring adults,” according to the council document. administration. Common Sense Media gives “Thirteen Reasons Why”, which was adapted into a Netflix series, a 2 out of 5 for sexual content, saying, “there are sexual innuendoes, kisses and fondling – boy grabs butt of a daughter,” according to the board filing.
The second category in the list includes books recommended for committee review because they have high sexual content, but also high educational value. These seven tracks include “The Bluest Eye” and “The Handmaid’s Tale”.
For the remaining nine novels on the list, the document outlines information and indicates that if anyone wishes to “continue with a full review” of one or more books, they should submit a “Request for Re-Review of Library Materials” form. “.
A second document that comes with the council agenda lists the titles of the books and the names of the parents and staff who reviewed them. Five titles have a “complete” next to them, seeming to indicate that the committee has finished reviewing the book.
Now that all books are to be removed from schools, they will likely be wrapped up and taken to the district warehouse, Tuck said. At the meeting, Russell said the books could be disposed of the same way the district disposes of old textbooks: by throwing them in the trash.
The discussion on what to do about the books lasted about half an hour and focused on what to do about the books under review as well as how to to delete.
The district has a policy for challenging materials in libraries and media centers through a grievance process, Simpson said.
While Simpson says she understands the value of making a new rating policy and reviewing the books in question, she worries about “the road we’re taking to get there.” It’s “not typically” district policy to “hang everything up and throw everything out the window until we fix it,” she said.
Despite Russell’s comments that books were removed from library shelves when challenged, administrators seemed to believe that books under review would still be available at checkout and could cause damage.
“The route I’m proposing is to be able to delete all books until we figure out what that route should be,” Valle said.
Pearson added, “and having the books on the shelf, or putting them back on the shelf, until they go through these long processes…at which point you’ve traumatized or caused mental destruction…” she said.
“I think it’s too long a process and the lifelong trauma of a child not having to experiment (with) something they’ve read… it’s just very destructive and scary “, said Pearson.
During the review process, a student can view a disputed book if they present a librarian with a verified note from a parent or guardian, Tuck said.
Russell said at the meeting that he thought the board was “well within” its mandate to vote to delete the books.
Kirkman said discussing and establishing a process for reviewing disputed books will be part of a future council business session.
“It will also give staff an opportunity to (provide) feedback,” Kirkman said.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to indicate that Admin Taylor also voted against the motion to delete the books.
This story originally appeared in the Idaho Press. Read more on IdahoPress.com
Check out the latest news from Treasure Valley and Gem State in our YouTube playlist: