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Texas school district to remove Bible, other 'challenged' books from library shelves for review

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A North Texas school district is reviewing dozens of books — including the Bible — to ensure they meet new school board standards.

Keller Independent School District, located in the northwest Dallas-Fort Worth area, sent an email Tuesday to the district's principals and librarians asking staff to "review books that were challenged last year" under new policies approved by the district earlier this month, Keller ISD spokesperson Bryce Nieman told The Christian Post.

Included on the full list of 41 books being challenged are the Bible, Toni Morrison's novel The Bluest Eye and a graphic novel version of The Diary of Young Girl by Anne Frank.

One of the entries on the list is a challenge submitted by a parent in November 2021, which references "The Bible (any variation- King James or otherwise)," listing the author as "Men who lived a long time ago- no 1 exact author exist (sp) for these books."

The challenge was withdrawn a month later, according to the district.

A review of another parent-submitted challenge citing "all versions" of the Bible submitted in February resulted in the book remaining in its current location.

The challenged titles by Morrison and Frank also cleared the review process and remained in their current location.

But Tuesday's email calls for schools to remove those books from libraries again so they can undergo further review under the school district's new guidelines. 

In response to questions about Tuesday's email, Neiman said all the titles listed in the email have appeared on the challenge list over the past year. 

"Books that meet the new guidelines will be returned to the libraries as soon as it is confirmed they comply with the new policy," he added.

Earlier this month, Keller ISD's Board of Trustees approved policies EFA (local) and EFB (local) at a special meeting on Aug. 8. Both policies related to the acquisition and review of instructional materials and library books, according to Neiman.

Standards released by the Texas Education Agency in April provided guidelines for schools across the state on addressing obscene content.

Under the state's standards, school librarians and staff are "encouraged" to make book selection available for parental review and to respond to parental feedback. 

Those standards also recognize "parents hold an essential role in the education of their children and have the right to guide what their children read" and calls for all school libraries statewide to "maintain a printed list of materials onsite and on the school library website that shows what has been selected as well as what is slated for acquisition."

Keller ISD has pulled several titles from its bookshelves in response to parent and community member challenges, including Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe, which depicts issues of gender identity; and L8r, g8r by Lauren Myracle, which contains detailed information about oral sex and other explicit content.

Emily Compagno of Fox News denounced the process on an episode of "Fox & Friends" on Thursday, saying it was "difficult to digest" that "the whim of a few has such an impact on the many."

"The fact that because one person, or three people, put the Bible on this is absolutely horrifying," she added. "Every day without the Bible is a day lost."

There has been much debate nationwide in recent years about the extent to which parents should have a say over public schools' educational and literary content. 

In April, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed a law requiring school boards to inform parents of books used in the classroom that contains sexually explicit content.

Known as Senate Bill 656, the law orders the Virginia Department of Education to create "model policies" for school boards that must be adopted by Jan. 1 of next year.

Virginia's Fairfax County Public Schools, one of the largest school districts in the U.S., garnered controversy in 2021 for having sexually graphic books in their high school libraries, including Gender Queer and Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison, which depicts sexual acts between men and boys.

Last September, the mayor of Hudson, Ohio, called on school board members to resign for allowing a book with sexually explicit material in a class at the district's high school.

During his remarks at the school board meeting, Hudson Mayor Craig Shubert publicly accused educators of "distributing essentially what is child pornography in the classroom."

"I'm going to give you a simple choice: You either choose to resign from this board of education or you will be charged," he added, receiving applause from attendees of the meeting. 

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