Banning books: is it actually benefiting students?


Laura Gill

School districts state-wide received a list of approximately 850 books State Rep. Matt Krause deemed unfit for students to read on Oct. 25, 2021. Among this list are National Book Award Winner Between the World and Me by Brie Spangler, All American Boys by Jason Reynolds, Roe v. Wade: the abortion question by D.J. Herda and Teens & Sex by Myra H. Immell. Associate Editor Laura Gill comments on Krause’s proposal and why it is important to understand the decision that falls in parents’ laps. 

On Oct. 25, 2021, State Rep. Matt Krause sent a letter to school districts across the state providing a 16-page list of approximately 850 book titles. In the letter Krause asked school districts to report how many copies of each book they had, how much money they spent on the books and where on campus the books are located. Krause is looking to remove books with topics of race, teen pregnancy, abortion and homosexuality from school campuses.

Conversations on banning books are not new. It seems every year a new list is sent out including books they believe are not fit for students to read. Schools receive the lists and books disappear from campuses across the state. This is gravely unfair for students. Every student should have access to a wide variety of books at any time.

As books get banned from schools the limitation of students’ equitable access to resources expands. Many students in high school do not own a library card for their local area library. On campus libraries provide students with access to information without having to make a trip to their area library. Often it is difficult to get to a public library or make time in your day to go. This leaves students without information for possible research assignments, personal inquiries and overall enjoyment of reading. Students should be able to read what they like without that freedom taken away from them.

Through taking books out of campus libraries’, the school district has the power to determine what is fit for a student to read and what is not. Censoring what information students have access to directly violates the first amendment. Krauss said he specifically chose these 850 books because they could make students feel uneasy. However, these topics are current and previous issues in the United States including race, abortion, LGBTQ+ topics and more. Every student deserves the right to learn from these resources if they so desire.

State Rep. Matt Krause’s 16 page list of approximately 850 books can be accessed by clicking on the image. (Laura Gill)

It is not the state’s responsibility to decipher who is fit to read what book. Each individual student is just that, an individual. They are each on their own journey with their own experiences and knowledge. It is the parents’ responsibility to have a family conversation deciding what books their students should or should not be reading. Therefore, banning books because of the topic leaves the nation, state, school district or teacher to decide what every student has the right to learn about, which in turn takes the decision out of the hands of the parents.

Krauss initiated his list of books in response to the passing of House Bill 3979 which overviews the illegality of schools requiring students to learn about anything dealing with racism or sexism. Krauss wants the on campus libraries to ban these books because they violate HB3979. However, the bill does not say anything about allowing students to read and learn about said topics, it states that school systems cannot require a student to learn about it. Having books about race, sexism, LGBTQ+ and topics like it in a school library, available for students, is not against the law.

Overall, it is up to parents about what their students are learning, and HB3979 secures that right by restricting what is taught in the classroom. However, a student’s resources should not be censored or taken away by the state; only a parent should be able to make that decision.