Texas Teacher Fired for Reading Anne Frank’s Diary to Eighth-Grade Students

An unidentified teacher at a Hamshire-Fannett Independent School District in Texas has lost her job after instructing her students in eighth grade to read aloud an excerpt with intimate content from an unapproved version of The Diary of Anne Frank book to her Eighth-grade students during a class reading session.

As reported by People.com, citing an article published by a local news outlet, KFDM-6, Mike Canizales, the communications director and community engagement coordinator for the Hamshire-Fannett Independent School District (IDS) in Texas, confirmed on Thursday that the teacher read to her students a version of the book “that was not approved by the district” resulting in her dismissal pending investigation into the incident.

Parents Notified of the Incident

According to one of the parents who talked to KFDM-6, the school emailed them on Tuesday, informing them that their eighth-grade children had read “content that was not appropriate” and vowed to stop such content immediately.

The parent also voiced his concerns over the book’s content regarding same-gender attraction, terming the passage where Anne Frank expresses her interest in another girl as “not okay.”

Following the incident, the school authorities made a decision to suspend the teacher and launch an investigation against her conduct on Wednesday, barely a day after her alleged wrongdoing.

History of the Controversial Content

Although the teacher faced a punitive response from the school, the passage read was part of Anne’s original writings, edited out from the classical version prepared for publication in 1947 by her father, Otto Frank. 

The sexually explicit entries were restored in later versions: “The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition,” published in 1995, and “The Diary of Anne Frank: The Critical Edition,” published in 1989.

Anne Frank is an iconic Jewish teenager killed during the Holocaust at 16. Her diary, retrieved after her death and published in English for the first time in 1952, is regarded as a vital piece of historical literature read in schools when students learn about the Holocaust, a horrific event that led to the murder of some 6 million Jews in German-controlled territories in Europe.

Released in 2018, Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation, which was adapted by Ari Folman and illustrated by David Polonsky, features intimate content initially edited from Frank’s classic diary she wrote from the age of 12. The content was first published in Dutch, Frank’s native language, in 1947.

However, this is not the first time the illustrated diary of Anne Frank has sparked controversies, with skeptic parents and religious groups opposed to its use in classes due to explicit sexuality content contained in the passages they view as age-inappropriate.

A Long History of Objection

Earlier this year, the Indian River County school district located in Vero Beach, Florida, banned the use of “Anne Frank’s Diary” after a conservative-leaning group, Moms for Liberty, successfully challenged the use of the diary’s content in schools on grounds of sexually explicit content that’s not age-appropriate, and that it does not “accurately” depict the Holocaust.

The Keller Independent School District, Texas, has categorized the illustrated book under the Parent Consent Area following a successful challenge regarding the book’s content.

Following the book’s removal from a school shelf and restriction of its use under parental consent, the Anne Frank Foundation, a Switzerland foundation owning the book rights, expressed concerns about the Ignorance of the Holocaust, terming it a “denial of history.”

The foundation also defended the use of Anne Frank’s content, saying they consider the book of the 12-year-old girl “appropriate reading for her peers.”

The state of Florida is known for its famous “Don’t Say Gay” bill signed into law last year, allowing anyone to challenge age-inappropriate titles in schools.

So far, a Mom of Liberty chapter in Florida continues the push to remove multiple books from shelves in Florida schools. 

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This article was produced by TPR Teaching. Featured image: spatuletail // Shutterstock.com.

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.

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