It’s never a great sign to see any sort of government official sponsor any kind of book banning, and that extends to attempted decisions to subvert the already complicated process of getting that done.
Recently, Granbury Independent School District in Granbury, Texas has come under fire for a proposal to simplify the process of banning books. And, in all honesty, I think it’s completely justified. What many will claim to be an attempt at “protecting children”, is something far more sinister in reality. It’s an attempt by bigoted people to hide the existence of marginalized communities and their struggles from the eyes of those who may help to fix that problem in the future.
Take a look at any list of the most often banned books. They’re not ‘violent’, and they don’t often outwardly talk about explicit topics. According to ala.org’s 2019 list of the most challenged books, eight of the ten books on that list discuss issues pertaining to the LGBTQ+ community. The 2020 list, reflecting the events of the year, features primarily books discussing the issues of racial inequality within America. These books aren’t corrupting children. They’re teaching children about two very important communities within the world that deserve to be taught about, and being able to discuss these issues within a protected, educational setting is important to the ideal of changing the world to be a place where the issues those groups face no longer exist.
This attempt to subvert the review process for getting a book banned from public schools is nothing short of a thinly veiled attempt to force a political ideology that is outwardly harmful to those groups.
The erasure of marginalized communities is a direct cause of the fundamental misunderstandings that lead to racism, homophobia, and transphobia. And among the issue of including LGBTQ and racial history within school curriculum comes this new attempt to hide the suffering of marginalized groups, harming both students and faculty alike.
Being able to relate to people and their struggles is an important part of harboring a safe place for individuals, and for many LGBTQ people at least, the library becomes that safe place, because they can find books with protagonists like them. Somebody whose struggles they can relate too. With the ability to ban any book they want without a formal review process, a school district can effectively tear down this safe place, and wreck any form of positive student relationship within schooling. I truly believe that the only way this issue can end is with harm, and the only way that harm can be mitigated is if people who actually give a darn step in and make themselves heard.
It’s wrong to assume that we can’t do anything from all the way in central Kansas. Go out and write a letter, or find a school district attempting this. Let them know that they can’t just do this. It’s a difficult process, but we can change the world with enough effort. Let’s make it better for everyone.
Braedon Martin is a Hutchinson freshman studying journalism