Two senior staffers share their opinion on the ongoing book list controversy


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A few of the books LISD parents are requesting the district remove from approved reading lists

Katie McClellan and Eilla Reid

After several parents noticed graphic reading material included in the district’s reading options for a book club reading list, they went to the school board and the books were removed. In response, a different group of parents and teachers have called for the reading materials to be added back to the list in order to support student’s access to uncensored reading list options. Parents opposing the books organized a skip day today in protest as the issue is continuing to be discussed.

These books should be reinstated for students to choose from.

Parenting preferences shouldn’t interfere with school policy. If parents are offended by the material, they should have a conversation with their child and ask them if they feel comfortable reading it instead of making the book unavailable for everyone. The school does not force students to read this material, as it is a part of an optional book club curriculum, and students are free to make their own choices about their reading. Students should not be shamed for reading complicated content. Instead, encourage them to make an effort to explore issues that affect them and their peers. Students’ grades have not and will not be affected by exercising their choice to opt-out of reading. These controversial books are optional. 

Another point to consider is when students read books featuring more complex, while explicit, content, students become more socially aware and contemplate different perspectives they might have not otherwise thought about. The school censors student access to inappropriate content online, as it should. But literature, written by different authors with personal experiences, discussing sexual assault or drug abuse is different. While these books may be difficult to read, they have a message for students. “In the Dreamhouse” specifically discusses unhealthy relationships and teaches students how to advocate for themselves in a situation where their relationship has become violent. Reading content with strong messages about self-healing and recognizing abuse is critical for student’s understanding of themselves and others. 

While these books contain scenes that are graphic, it’s not actually about the sex, it’s about the violence taking place. Students should be allowed access to this content to educate themselves about rape culture, relationships of all kinds and how to ensure they set, as well as respect, boundaries. Teaching students what to look out for and how to deal with complex situations and relationships is critical for their well-being in life after high school.

Schools should encourage independent reading, including stories about or by people of different backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, sexualities, etc. Censoring stories told by these groups creates a more narrow, unrealistic worldview for students. Giving students the opportunity to explore diverse literature allows them to explore these complex themes and nuance in a supervised environment where they can freely ask questions. 

The district should include a trigger warning for material that includes themes like sexual assault and drug use in the descriptions of each novel when included on a reading list. Students can include their parents in making informed decisions based on their personal preferences on what books they select.

Students are capable of making their own decisions regarding reading material and should be allowed to explore complex storylines and content they may not have been exposed to before. The district should respect a student’s right to choose because it’s that simple: either read it or don’t.