A Texas school district has pulled dozens of challenged books from its library shelves—including the Bible—just before the start of the academic year under a new policy introduced by conservative leaders.
“Attached is a list of all books that were challenged last year. By the end of today, I need all books pulled from the library and classrooms,” Keller Independent School District executive curriculum director Jennifer Price instructed principals in an email Tuesday, obtained by The Texas Tribune. “Once this has been completed, please email me a confirmation. We need to ensure this action is taken by the end of today.”
The books were snatched up due to a new compliance policy the board adopted Aug. 8, local outlet WFAA Dallas reported. According to The Dallas Morning News, Keller spokesperson Bryce Nieman said that the district’s new policy requires every once-challenged book to go through a review process. Keller associate Superintendent John Allison told the outlet that each book would be returned to its respective library once it’s found that it follows district guidelines. However, officials say they don’t know how long the process may take.
Forty-one books in total—including the Bible, a graphic novel adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, and Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe—were swiped from school shelves despite some of them previously being approved by officials to stay in district circulation.
According to the district’s list of challenged books, a parent raised concern in Nov. 2021 over “any variation” of the Bible written by “men who lived a long time ago.” The parent withdrew their challenge in December. However, another parent challenged the Bible in Feb. 2022. After the board reviewed it, members initially found that it would remain at its current library location.
Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation, reworked by Ari Folman and illustrated by David Polonsky, was challenged by a parent in Feb. 2022, but the board also initially decided that it would remain at its current location.
Both books were still pulled Tuesday for reconsideration due to the district’s new policies.
According to the Tribune, conservative district trustees—Joni Shaw Smith, Sandi Walker, and Micah Young—unanimously voted in the spring to amend the district’s book policy. The trustees were elected from the school board in the spring and allegedly received financial contributions from Christian political groups.
“These books went through the official district-established challenge committee process. But because they all passed the committee process, our extremist Christian nationalist school board decided the process was ‘rigged,’” book committee member and parent Laney Hawes wrote in a Twitter thread. “This is a violation of our childrens [sic] constitutional rights.”
“I want to make it clear the administrators, teachers, librarians, & staff are NOT to blame for the extremist takeover & book banning in @KellerISD,” Hawes continued. “Its [sic] our…extremist school board Members who are funded by right wing PACs.They brought the political culture wars to my children.”
Keller Independent School District did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.