After receiving a second appeal Salina Public Schools has again determined a library book recently challenged, All Boys Aren’t Blue, by George M. Johnson, will remain on the shelf.
According to USD 305, consistent with board policy, a district-wide appeal committee was formed after a second appeal was filed. After reading and reviewing the book, the committee determined the book should remain in the library. In the report, the committee listed several attributes that contributed to its decision including:
- Exploration of self-acceptance when you don’t feel you belong or are marginalized by society.
- Examination of the dynamics of an imperfect family and how to find a network of support and safety.
- Access to a memoir that includes themes of reassurance during a formative time of sexual development and self-doubt.
While the committee agreed that some passages in the book could cause concern for some individuals, the individual concerns should not result in prohibiting access for all students. The United States Supreme Court has expressly held that local school boards may not remove books from school library shelves simply because they dislike the ideas contained in the books.*
In consideration of parent concerns, the committee discussed ways parents/guardians could provide oversight for their own student. Currently, schools assign students a Destiny account, which is a library management system that records what material the student checks out. Students can access that account from home, allowing a parent to monitor what their student has checked out and providing an opportunity for family discussion.
The committee acknowledged more communication to parents and guardians about these processes would be helpful for those who wish to discuss with their students what they are reading and checking out from the school library. Specifically, information about media center processes should be provided annually during online enrollment and at least one time in school newsletters.
Another recommendation was the development of a process so that parents and guardians can notify the school of their oversight preference. This would allow a concerned parent or guardian to put “parental permission” in place prior to their student checking out a book.
The district’s process to manage any challenges to textbooks and instructional materials is clear**. The first step is a meeting between the concerned individual, the school principal and the library media specialist. The next step is a building review committee.
This committee concluded the book remain in the library, after which a request for a second appeal was received. A district-wide appeal committee was formed to review the book as the second level of appeal. That committee included the principal, the deputy superintendent, the library media specialist, the library media specialist overseer, a counselor, three teachers and three citizens.