A Florida school district has returned the Bible to school library shelves after temporarily removing it when someone complained about its sexually graphic material.
Conservative Groups Are Against the Books
Of course, there are many examples of sexually explicit language and themes in the Bible.
In communities across the U.S. over the past year, conservative groups have increasingly tried to vet the books made available in schools and public libraries.
Critics Target LGBTQ Teen Books
Specifically, they have targeted books that explore LGBTQ teens’ sexuality, seeking to strip them from the shelves of youth library sections.
Even the Bible Was Targeted
In response, defenders of the 1st Amendment in those communities have rallied to block such challenges.
They have rhetorically argued that if LGBTQ books are too sexually explicit for kids, then so, too, are many other books, including the Bible.
More Than Just a Book
Within the context of this national debate, the Volusia County Schools case in Deland, Fla., marks a significant milestone. It represents the first documented instance of someone formally challenging the Bible.
The district said that state law required it to pull the Bible from school shelves in response to the challenge but also supported quickly returning “the Good Book” to the libraries.
Challenges Book for Fair Material Selection
“I wouldn’t say it’s just to prove a point,” Christina Quinn, who filed the challenge with the district, told Fox 35 News.
“It is basically saying ‘What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,’ so we can’t pick some and not pick others when they both have similar material.”
31 Books Face Challenges
The district told Fox 35 News that 31 books have been formally challenged this year. Of those, 15 titles have been removed, and reviews are still pending on the rest.
Advocating the Return of the Bible to School Libraries
“It was kind of shocking that they would even think about taking a historical piece of evidence for history classes or literature out of our reach and out of our curriculum,” high school junior Hannah Harger told the news outlet.
She had gathered more than 1,000 petition signatures advocating the return of the Bible to the schools’ libraries.
Growing National Trend
Over the past two years, well-funded local and national conservative groups have coordinated their efforts to remove certain materials from libraries.
Their focus is predominantly on banning books that explore LGBTQ and sexual issues, specifically from the youth sections of libraries or from libraries’ total collections.
Parental Rights In Book Restrictions
They have argued the issue is one of parental rights, saying that parents should have the final say over keeping sexually explicit books away from their children at school.
They claim that they are equally passionate about this issue, whether the material touches on heterosexual or LGBTQ sexual themes.
LGBTQ Kids Need Trusted Info
However, their critics contend that they predominantly focus on challenging LGBTQ literature.
Supporters of the books counter that kids who are LGBTQ often don’t have an adult they can trust to provide them with such information, making these books a critical resource.
LGBTQ Kids Need Trusted Info
They also worry about the precedent that book banning would set for a society that depends on freedom.
Book Challenges Soar
From January 1 through August 31, challenges were filed against 1,915 books in the U.S.
This marks a 20% increase from the same period in 2022, a year that saw the most challenges in the 20 years that the American Library Association has tracked the statistics, according to the ALA.
Book Challenges Soar 20% in 2023
Most of the books were written by or about a person of color or someone who was LGBTQ.
Attacks on Reading Freedom Threaten Constitutional Rights
“These attacks on our freedom to read should trouble every person who values liberty and our constitutional rights,” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.
“To allow a group of people or any individual no matter how powerful or loud, to become the decision-maker about what books we can read or whether libraries exist is to place all of our rights and liberties in jeopardy.”
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This article has been produced by TPR Teaching.
Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.