Amid discussions about banning books, NCSD student observes: “The world is neither censored nor protected”
CASPER, Wyo. – Parents, students and alumni raised a variety of views regarding the book ban at the Natrona County School District Board of Directors meeting on Monday, January 10.
The comments came after a few parents raised concerns at the school board meeting in December about books they felt were inappropriate in school libraries. At the December meeting, some parents reported passages or pictures in the following books:
- Ellen Hopkins’ “Traffic”
- “Monday Doesn’t Happen” by Tiffany Jackson
- “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe
While most of the people who spoke at Monday night’s school board meeting argued for or against the book ban, relative Catherine Morris expressed a mixed opinion. Morris said she read the mentioned books at the December school board meeting.
“With one exception, I think these books should stay on the shelves and be available to students,” Morris said.
Morris said she thought “Gender Queer” might be a book that shouldn’t be found in school libraries, noting that it is an illustrated graphic novel and that she found that the images found in the book were “very pornographic”.
While Morris said she believes that while this book should eventually be taken out of school libraries, if it is taken down, it should be replaced with another book “that uses the same focus group.”
Recent Kelly Walsh high school graduate RJ Schoen, on the other hand, argued that banning “Gender Queer” would send an unwelcoming message to transgender and non-binary students in the NCSD. Schoen read the following quote from Kobabe’s “Gender Queer”:
Some people were born in the mountains, while others were born by the sea. Some people are happy to live where they were born while others have to make a journey to reach the climate in which they can live. ‘flourish and grow. Between the ocean and the mountain, there is a wild forest. This is where I want to make my home.
“This is my favorite quote from the book ‘Gender Queer’,” Schoen said. “When I read these words in my senior year of high school, it was the first time I felt my feelings about my gender were represented at school.”
“If we ban this book, we are showing every transgender and non-binary student that they do not belong to our district. We tell them that their stories must be suppressed in order to protect other students from knowing about their very existence… The truth is that when we remove from circulation novels that reflect student experiences, we are sending a very clear message that stories, experiences of these students, thoughts and dreams also have no place in our educational system.
During the meeting, several people asked where and how the line could be drawn if the district begins to ban books in response to objections from a group of concerned parents. Tom Morton asked if a book like the Bible would end up being banned because it contained stories about things like seduction, adultery, rape and torture that some might deem “objectionable,” a concept he called of “highly subjective”.
Others indicated that passages from the Bible provided support for their expressions of concern about the books.
“We might make you uncomfortable with our words, but we are a long way from God’s righteous wrath,” Parent Sarah Bieber said. “Be thankful for this.”
Parent and young adult author Pam Brondos said she believes there are already enough safeguards in place for parents who don’t want their children exposed to certain books. She said parents are encouraged to sign consent forms when they read something that may be considered controversial. A Natrona County High School student also noted during the meeting that parents can call school libraries and ask that their children not be allowed to view certain materials that they do not want their children to read.
Brondos said she believes it is appropriate for parents to decide what their own children read. She said parents should not be able to restrict what other people’s children read, which would be the case if the district banned books at the request of affected parents.
“As a traditionally published author of young adult books, I know of other authors whose books are disputed in school districts across this country on the basis of a single line or paragraph presented as conclusive evidence. that the book is obscene and not worth a student’s time, ”Brondos added. “Using excerpts as a pretext, these attacks most often attack the race, ethnicity, culture, religion or sexual orientation presented in the books.
“I read two of the books mentioned last month. As whole texts, they tackle really difficult and mature subjects. Unfortunately, some of these topics are topics that our children have to deal with on a daily basis in school. Although the subject matter is mature and difficult, the two books I have read give students a path through difficult times as well as the means and mechanism for learning empathy and understanding.
Brondos said she believes some books don’t belong on school library shelves, but decisions about them shouldn’t be left to a small group of parents.
A Kelly Walsh High School student who opposed the book ban noted that banning books in schools does not change the reality children may face after the bell rings or after graduation : “The world is neither censored nor protected.
After public comment and regular business scheduled for Monday’s meeting, some directors have commented on the issue of the book ban. Oil City will report on the directors’ outlook in a separate article. Comments from administrators along with other comments from parents and students on whether the books should be censored can be found in the video stream of Monday night’s NCSD board meeting: