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  • CCAPE Admin

Columbia County Advocates for Public Education Urges Resistance to Book Challenges

For the last year, some residents of Columbia County have urged the Columbia County School District and the Columbia County public libraries to remove books from curricula and even shelves from which students and the public can peruse and choose to borrow.

These book banners offer a variety of reasons for their position. Sometimes it is because the books contain profanity. Sometimes it is because the books criticize certain aspects of human society, such as the conduct of police or widespread mythologies about how the United States came to be. Sometimes it is because they believe gays, lesbians and transgender people shouldn’t be portrayed as human beings, because that might “normalize” them.

Whatever the reason, people in positions of authority, be they legislators in our state capitols, county commissioners, members of our public schools’ boards of education and public libraries’ boards of directors and executives in the publishing industry and in the news media, should defer to the standards set by professional educators and librarians and resist book challenges.

Majoritarian erasure of minorities, whether they are racial, ethnic, religious, sexual orientation, gender identity or differently-abled, in public school literature curricula, classroom libraries and school media centers results in alienation of these minorities and reduces their likelihood of excelling in school. And, for all students, considering people different from themselves opens up the door to empathy, which is a cornerstone of a democratic society.

For public libraries, the case against book challenges is even more clear. In 1939, the American Library Association published the Library Bill of Rights. Article II of the current version demands inclusion, even if some or even a majority of an area’s population objects.

Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.

People in authority should protect teachers and librarians so that they can practice their professions without fearing attack from individuals who seek to inject a narrow agenda and limit critical thinking.

Columbia County Advocates for Public Education (CCAPE) urges members of the public to contact their elected officials and express their support for teachers, librarians and the students and library patrons who benefit when these professionals are free to do their jobs.

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