BANNING BOOKS - A SLIPPERY SLOPE

November 24, 2021

Book banning in OCPS?  There are established School Board policies that were not followed when the book, Gender Queer was pulled from three OCPS high school libraries. School Board Policy KEC -Challenged Materials and School Board policy IJL - Library Materials Selection and Adoption were ignored by District leaders. 

Policy KEC calls for the schools' "Literacy Councils" to review each challenged book through and established process. Are there even Literacy Council established at every OCPS school?  Teachers we asked had never heard of them or said they "had one years and years ago."

Please read the letter President Doromal sent to the School Board regarding banning books:

 

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November 24, 2021

 

Dear Superintendent Jenkins, Chair Jacobs and School Board members:

I am writing concerning book banning and the public announcement by the Moms for Liberty that they will now shift their focus from mask bans to book bans.

At the November 9, 2021 School Board Meeting, it was announced that the book, Gender Queer was removed from the libraries of OCPS high schools. All board members weighed in on the discussion and it was decided that there would be a work session or workshop for further discussion. I assume any work session would be held to discuss and propose changes to existing school board policies.

A November 3, 2021 article in The Orlando Sentinel reported that the books were removed from Boone, Dr. Phillips and Lake Buena Vista High Schools.  Leslie Postal wrote: “Superintendent Barbara Jenkins and her top staff learned of the book at that meeting, later reviewed it and decided it did not belong in OCPS high schools, the district’s statement said.”

Since the Moms for Liberty have declared book banning as their next attack on public education, it is important that the District thinks long and hard about censorship and the consequences of banning books.  Censorship of truth, whitewashing history and limiting sensitive subjects based on personal belief has dangerous consequences.

The national Moms for Liberty group’s list of books to ban include books with subject matter addressing LGBTQ, race, discrimination and science issues.  The following are some titles from their extensive list: MLK and the March to Washington, Ruby Bridges Goes to School: My True Story, Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation, Plains Indians, and Johnny Appleseed.

It appears that School Board Policy KEC Challenged Material Policy was not followed in making the decision to remove Gender Queer from three high school libraries. That policy states that concerns about the appropriateness of books be made with the principals in writing on a provided form. It further requires members of each school’s Literacy Council to review “challenges” and states, “Challenged materials shall not be removed immediately; such materials shall be available for student use pending a final decision.” The policy states that the Literary Council will review the challenge and make a decision to be presented in writing to the principal and area superintendent. Finally, it allows for a school board appeal.  OCPS District leaders appear to have ignored the School Board policy in the removal of Gender Queer. This is unfortunate, since book banning is a slippery slope and transparency and teacher-voice should be upheld in decision-making.

Until they are revised, OCCTA recommends that the District leaders and School Board members adhere to School Board Policy KEC Challenged Material and School Board Policy IJL Library Media and Other Reading Materials Selection.

Sincerely,


Wendy L. Doromal

President

Some articles about book banning in public schools:

Washington Post - Fairfax schools will return two books . . .

American Radio Show Defends Gender Queer

Washington Post - Schools Are Banning My Book . . .

Screen Rant - Gender Queer. . .

Orlando Sentinel - "Gender Queer" book removed from Orange School libraries