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 the district’s libraries.
The 22 books in question came to the attention of the district and the board for allegedly containing “pornography,” according to a board meeting document.
Committees made up of staff and parents were in the process of conducting a review of the books in question, but the vote effectively ends that. However, the trustees expressed interest in developing a formal process to review the challenged books in the future.
During a school board meeting in January, a parent raised concerns during a public comment about a book, said Kathleen Tuck, the district’s director of communications. Books that parents or community members report to the board for allegedly questionable content are known as “questioned books.” The board subsequently received emails from other parents questioning the sexual content and appropriateness of additional books available in district libraries, bringing the total to 22 titles. (The list has 24 books, but one book was removed from library shelves before being challenged, while another is listed twice.)
The books that will be definitively eliminated are “Kite Runner”, by Khaled Hosseini; Becky Albertalli’s “Leah on the Offbeat”; “The Prince and the Dressmaker”, by Jen Wang; “Thirteen Reasons Why,” by Jay Asher; “The 57 Bus”, by Dashka Slater; “Drama”, by Raina Telgemeier; “Looking for Alaska”, by John Green; “The bluest eye”, by Toni Morrison; “The Handmaid’s Tale”, by Margaret Atwood; “L8r, g8r”, by Lauren Myracle; Ashley Hope Pérez’s “Out of Darkness”; “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky; Ellen Hopkins’ “Crank”; “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian”; by Sherman Alexie; “City of Heavenly Fire”, by Cassandra Clare; “The clockwork princess”, by Cassanrda Clare; Rainbow Rowell’s “Eleanor and Park”; “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” by Jonathan Safran Foer; “Sold”, by Patricia McCormick; “Speak”, by Laurie Halse Anderson; Adam Rapp’s “33 Snowfish”; and “It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growth, Sex, and Sexual Health,” by Robie H. Harris.
Board President Jeff Kirkman, Vice President Tracey Pearson and Trustee Marco Valle voted to eliminate the books “for good,” while Trustee Brook Taylor and Trustee Mandy Simpson voted against.
“I just have a hard time with ‘forever’ when a process hasn’t been completed to review and review things,” Simpson said, adding that he’s not opposed to books being pulled from shelves while they’re 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 has passed a bill that would have penalized librarians for distributing allegedly pornographic material to children, and the city of Meridian is facing a potential lawsuit for damages for allegedly objectionable material in its libraries.
When the books were “challenged,” they were removed from library shelves, Acting Superintendent Gregg Russell said. Staff and parent committees were 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, as well as scores on other metrics and an overall score.
The document explaining the process is dated February 2. January 25, 2022 and groups the books on the list into three categories. The first category is books that should be “removed from the list of questioned books for lack of or little sexual content.” Six books seem to have been categorized that 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, saying “the author depicts romantic love and the desire for affection of caring adults,” according to the board document. Common Sense Media gives “Thirteen Reasons Why,” which was adapted into a Netflix series, a 2 out of 5 for sexual content, saying, “there’s sexual innuendo, kissing and groping: a guy grabs a girl’s butt,” according to the meeting document.
The second category on the list includes books recommended for review by a committee because they are rated as having high sexual content, but also high educational value. Those seven titles include “The Bluest Eye” and “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
For the remaining nine novels on the list, the document presents information and says that if someone wants to “proceed with a full review” of one or more books, they must submit a “Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials” form.
A second document provided with the meeting agenda lists the titles of the books and the names of the parents and staff who were reviewing them. Five titles have “complete” next to them, which seems to indicate that the committee had finished reviewing the book.
Now that all the books will be removed from the schools, they will likely be bagged 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 about what to do with the books lasted about half an hour and focused on what should be done with the books under review as well as having a process to remove them.
The district has a policy to challenge materials in libraries and media centers through a complaint procedure, Simpson said.
While Simpson said he understands the interest in making a new evaluation policy and reviewing the books in question, he is concerned about “the route we took to get there.” “It’s not typically ‘district policy’ to put everything on hold and just throw everything out the window until we fix it,” she said.
Despite Russell’s comments that the books were pulled from library shelves when questioned, administrators seemed to think that the books under review would still be available for loan and could cause harm.
“The path I’m proposing is to be able to get all the books out until we figure out what that path should be,” Valle said.
Pearson added, “and to have the books on the shelf, or back on the shelf, until you go through these long processes, at which point you will have already traumatized or caused mental destruction,” he said.
“I think it’s too long a process and to have lifelong trauma for a child who doesn’t need to experience (with) something they’ve read…it’s just very destructive and scary,” Pearson said.
During the review process, a student could check out a questioned book by presenting a verified note from a parent or guardian to a librarian, Tuck said.
Russell said at the meeting that he believed the board is “well within” its power to vote to remove the books.
Kirkman said discussing and establishing a process to review the challenged books will be part of a future board work session.
“This will give staff an opportunity to (provide) input,” Kirkman said.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to reflect that Trustee Taylor also voted against the motion to remove the books.
This story originally appeared in the idaho press. read more on IdahoPress.com
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